Odd things were afoot last night when I went to see the new Harry Potter film – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. From the sudden blockage of access to the toilet at Starbucks to a queue that was invented — and then became very real in the minds of its followers to the attempt to orchestrate a “classic” Potter fandom son — it was a strange evening that didn’t end until nearly four in the morning.
Immediately after work I went to the Regal Movie Theater on 42nd Street to pick up tickets for myself and my two friends Elizabeth and Justine. Justine was actually coming in by bus from Washington, D.C. Elizabeth and I met her two years ago at a midnight screening of the previous Harry Potter film – she was wearing the school robes from the film and I just knew that I had to talk to her. Since it was the film that brought us together to begin with, we all thought it would be good to get together to see this film as well. I thought that Justine might be able to swing by my work and “pick me up” but she was still on the bus when I got off.
At some point when I was wandering around Starbucks, I got a worried text message from her that her bus had been in a minor accident. I called her and she told me that the bus driver was yelling at a police officer. I assured her that it would be okay and she would make it in time. Sure enough, about five minutes later she sent me a text message saying that she was back en route. A little bit later Elizabeth met up with me and we went to get Justine from Port Authority. She had on her robes again. I suppose it would have been good if I would have had my own Hogwarts robes but I still do not. I was told there was not going to be an actual line until at least ten thirty or eleven so we went to ‘get a slice’ as a colleague of mine would say. I ended up having a slice of pizza with penne noodles on it. Have you ever had penne noodles on your pizza?
Barricading the Doors
After we spent some time playing some video games at the nearby arcade (what evening experience is complete without some game playing?) we went outside and suddenly came face to face with a huge line outside of the theater. We went up to a random person in the line and asked what was going on and the person said that there was no official line but they decided that they were going to form a line of their own. This immediately struck us as being completely insane because the times of admission into the theater depended on the start time of the film. Not everyone was seeing the film at exactly midnight – there were screenings all the way up to 12:30 with about five minute increments in between. The line consisted of a combination of people going to different screenings. We realized that this so-called unofficial line was a total farce and that we could just as easily form our own unofficial line wherever we wanted.
Before we did that, we decided it would be wise to use the facilities at Starbucks. There I had no problem with the official line. I seriously sometimes wonder what people do when they are in the toilet. I can be in and out of the room in under a minute. Elizabeth is even faster than me. When a person takes five to ten minutes and it is clear that they did not partake in any activity that would bring about a noticable scent, you really have to wonder what they are thinking. While waiting in line, a manager from the movie theater — which shares a wall and door with the Starbucks — came in and asked us if we were planning on going through the shared door to get to the movie and, if so, to change those plans. I informed the man that we were actually queued up for the toilet and pretended that I wasn’t familiar with any movie that was coming out that evening at midnight.
That was actually a theme of the evening. Someone would come up to us and ask if we were going to the new Harry Potter film since Justine was wearing robes and I would pretend I was unaware that there was a new film coming out. It was tremendous fun for awhile.
It Wasn’t a Riot
For about twenty minutes we stood outside the theater, off to one side where there weren’t people congregated. Interestingly enough, people started forming a little line behind us. It’s almost as though people will just naturally form a line if they think that a line is being formed. When ten thirty rolled around, we walked right in without any problem or protest from the ridiculous fake line – which apparently eventually stretched out from 42nd street all the way to 44th street. I’m glad that we didn’t take part in that nonsense.
Once we had found seats in our theater, food and drink acquisition was delegated and I stayed behind to guard the seats. People trickled into the theater but even though the show sold out, the theater did not fill up entirely. I suspect that people looked at their tickets and went to whichever theaters they wanted to go to regardless. There was a person who decided it would be good fun to get a group singalong of The Strange Ticking Noise from The Potter Puppet Pals. Not surprisingly (considering that it was a midnight showing) most people knew how to sing the song.
A good night was had, though there was one odd point after the film where Justine asked someone who seemed to be a huge Harry Potter fan what they thought of a particular scene in the film and they apparently looked at her as though she were crazy. I guess you can’t win them all. But why would you go to a midnight screening unless you were actually passionate about the subject?