Print Edition: July 8, 2011
On July 15, the end of an era will be upon us. This tasty slice of time began way back in 1996, when a single mother was offered a $4,000 advance from Bloomsbury press. The offer came with the warning that she would never make any money selling children’s book. I wonder if her castle is big enough that the laughter at this thought simply continues to bounce and reverberate ad infinitum?
In case you missed it – yes, JK Rowling lives in a castle.
Read them or not, see the movies or not, it’s impossible to ignore this franchise. It spans prose, video, and one day soon may just have more pornographic fan fiction in its world than Star Trek. The final chapter comes on July 15, when the second half of the final novel is released in movie format. Fans can bemoan the hefty storyline all they want, especially the fact that this seems like a not-so-thinly veiled ploy on behalf of Warner Bros. to extend the shelf life of their cash cow. Yes, it would have been difficult to fit the entirety of the story into one film, but why, all of a sudden, did the moviemaker men develop an inability to slash entire chapters during the book-to-movie process? There seemed to be no trouble with it for the first six films, so it seems odd that they started now.
Venues everywhere seem to be catching on to the finality of this film, as well. Cineplex sold a “movie passport” that allowed viewers to see the first seven films, one per week, leading up to the release of the final movie. The prices was more than the ticket of seeing a new film and seeing how any legitimate Potter maniac has multiple copies on their DVD shelves already, this seems a little silly. It was, however, nice to see them on the big screen again – not that I’d know, or anything.
Communities are getting in on the action, too. The popular Summer Cinema in the Park company showed the seventh movie in Douglas Park on the evening of July 6. Though numbers are not available at press time, an employee for the group stated that she expected this to be the best attended event so far.
It makes sense that people are currently attempting to cash in on this craze from every angle because once this movie is done, things will be tapering off. This comes down to the rather brilliant direct marketing scheme Rowling & Co. has come up with. On June 17, a website went up with a date, and nothing more. Potter fans were driven wild. Youtube videos ensued with countdowns and wild guessing. What did all the hype amount to? E-books. Overhyped, still mildly exciting E-books. They’re being sold directly from the publisher with no exclusive contracts with Kobo, Kindle, or Kazoodle (what the iPad would be called if Steve Jobs wasn’t so non-conformist). With these books will come extras: images, small details about characters that have never been releases, and so on and so forth. To tie it in and ensure a new audience, there are extras available online including your own trunk, your own wand from Ollivander, and even chocolate frog cards. Exciting? Kind of. But they’re still just e-books.
Despite the fact that you may feel above going to a movie based off a kid’s novel, it may still be worth seeing the film or purchasing one of these over-hyped e-books. While the franchise is obviously consumer driven, what Rowling has managed to do is quite revolutionary. In a world where reading isn’t thought of as fun, she’s taken a novel that isn’t purely didactic and made it a part of our liturgy. If for nothing else than to be a part of artistic history, see one of these movies in the theatre while you still can.