Some came in cloaks, capes, and scarves. Others wore beards, masks, and wigs. However they dressed, they arrived in droves for the July 15 midnight premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” the grand finale of the series. The sell-out event took place at Mega Movies in the Brunswick Square Mall.
“It’s a fun time. Lots of excitement, lots of people,” said John DeNicola, Director of Operations at the theater.
Just as he had expected, approximately 1600 people came out and the remaining front row tickets were claimed. He said that the vast majority of people did the “smart thing” and bought ahead. “We have seven theaters [two of them 3-D] all sold out, and we’re just waiting for them to show up,” said DeNicola.
By 11:30, the theater lobby was jam-packed, and the staff was kicking their operation into high-gear. It was organized chaos, as management had grouped people by theater and counted the number of people in each one.
Some had arrived for an 8:45 showing of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I.” Other fans arrived as early as 9:00 p.m. to get in line for a good seat for the midnight premiere.
But perhaps the earliest to arrive was a group of East Brunswick High School students, who camped out in the theater lobby starting at 5:30 p.m. “It’s the last one. It’s like our childhood’s over after this, and it’s a big deal,” said Jessica Dudra, 15, who has grown up with the series. She dressed as a Hogwarts student and zapped passersby with her magic wand as she waited.
If there was a “Best Costumes” award, it would have gone to a group of students from Old Bridge High School, who dressed as the entire cast of characters. Upon entering the theater, the group received a large round of applause.
Some people even made the trip from out of town, including a Lord Voldemort who hailed from New York, as well as friends Julia Simon and Laney Pope. In the lobby, the girls wore Harry Potter glasses and used eyeliner to draw his zigzag scar on each others’ foreheads. They said they wanted to attend the premiere so badly, they had their parents drive them from Newtown, Pa.
Matthew Penny, 15, of Old Bridge, says he’s not an extreme Potter fan, but drew from the excitement of those who are. “Their energy for this movie was infectious, and I admit that I actually did stand up and clap at the end of it,” he said. “For my first midnight movie release it was a great experience, and I advise people to see the movie even if they’re not fans.”
It seemed that high school and college-aged students comprised most of the crowd but there were a few exceptions.
Jared Hochstadt, 10, East Brunswick, was among the younger Potter fans. “I’ve been waiting a long time to see the eighth one. Ever since I saw Part 1, I wanted to see Part 2,” he said.
His mother, Audrey, is a fan of the creativity of the series and was glad to accompany her son. “He couldn’t wait and I told him we would go,” she said. While she has never read the books, Jared has just completed the first, a sign that Harry Potter's legacy will live on with future fans, both kids and adults.
Just recently, 29-year-old Chris McAuliffe read through all seven books of the series. He agrees with a common opinion among fans that the movies leave out a lot of detail but still attended the event with his friends Victor Jacobson, 24, and Alessandro Maniscalco, also 29.
“Why not?” said Maniscalco, who had to wake up for work at 6 a.m. “I don’t want anyone spoiling the ending,” he joked, “even though I already know what happens.”
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 130 minutes. The blockbuster weekend continues at Mega Movies, located at 755 State Route 18 in East Brunswick.