By Jasmine Watts
Confession: I’ve never seen any of the Harry Potter movies…ever.
I know that may come as a big surprise to you. Most people my age grew up on the Harry Potter series, it just wasn’t my thing. Nonetheless, I was still excited to go to the Warner Brothers studio tour- the making of Harry Potter just to see what all the fuss was about. I was even more excited to meet with the President of Warner Brothers U.K., Josh Berger.
Before we even got to the studio we had an encounter with mass media. A bus picked us up from the train station to take us to the tour. It was a double decker black bus all decked out in Harry Potter images, advertising the tour. This could easily make any one riding down the streets of London see that there was a tour and it was very close. Boarding the bus, we heard Harry Potter themed music, just to get everyone in the mood upon entering the tour.
We had our meeting with Josh Berger at 10:30 a.m. Looking at the schedule for the trip, I always thought that this would be the most important day. We were fortunate enough to meet with the U.K. president of a major, worldwide company. Though I don’t like Harry Potter, I’ve grown up on many other Warner Brother movies. Mr. Berger has been with the company for 27 years, it was truly an honor to listen to all he had to say. He was very friendly and down to earth. Though he grew up around the entertainment industry, and gained many connections growing up, he assured us that there was a lot of room in the industry for young people like ourselves & the key is to differentiate ourselves from the rest. He also explained to us how he gained his experience and his favorite parts of the job. I’m sure all of us in the room aspired to be just like him.
After our inspirational meeting with Mr. Berger, we were able to go on the tour. All of the Harry Potter fans of the group turned red of joy and excitement, some almost in tears. I was just ready to see what it was all about. I did think that it was cool that the studio area that the tour was in was still an active filming studio. Just across the street, they were filming parts for the new Justice League movie. I wished I could sneak in and just watch how they do it all and maybe even get the inside scoop about the movie from the actors, but that’s just the journalist in me. We were standing right where many great films were made and will continue to be made, including Harry Potter. Mr. Berger said that was a studio for filmmakers, by filmmakers, which made it a unique and comfortable space for Warner Brothers and other companies renting the space. The tour included original sets and props from the movie. The line to get into the tour included a mass audience full of fans. I felt like I was at a Harry Potter movie premiere, as busy as it was. People of all ages came to enjoy the tour. It included short videos, games and lots of sights to see.
It was great to see all of the Harry Potter fans learning the secrets of the movie and turning into big kids again, being where the magic all began. I noticed that even in the exhibit, there were advertisements for other companies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an advertisement in an exhibit or museum before, but it was very smart thinking. I’m sure this attraction brings out millions of fans. There were at least a few hundred there in the few hours I saw. Putting an advertisement there would certainly allow a mass audience to be introduced to a product. The Harry Potter fans were very attentive during the entire tour. They didn’t want to miss one part, so I’m sure the ad gained their attention, even if it wasn’t for long.
According to Josh Berger, “Harry Potter is the biggest movie series ever, next to Star Wars.” I’d definitely agree with that statement, no matter how much I personally don’t care for it. I see tons of Harry Potter t-shirts, lunch boxes, blankets, and other products sold in multiple stores across the U.S. Aside from the actual movie generating money for the company, the company continues to thrive off of the Harry Potter merchandise it sells. At the end of the tour, was a huge gift shop of course. The store was like a Harry Potter fan’s dream. It had everything from Harry’s glasses and sweater, to notebooks, magic wands, and tea cups. I was in awe because one of Harry’s sweaters alone cost 74 pounds. That’s a little over 100 U.S. dollars! Not to mention that the tickets to even get into the tour weren’t cheap. I couldn’t imagine all of the profit they make from the gift shop and other stores that sell Harry Potter products such as Meijer or Target. I work at Forever 21 and we even had a few “Gryffindor” sweatshirts (I didn’t know what it meant until a Potter fan freaked out in the store).
Harry Potter is like an empire. This year was the fifteenth anniversary of the first movie. The business seems to keep growing and getting better. Seeing young children at the tour quoting the movie and excited about the props, that weren’t even born when the movies came out made me realize what a classic the movie truly was. Warner Brothers sure does have a hit on their hands. Though I’m not a Potter fan, I’m excited to see where the series will go. I will certainly keep my eyes peeled for future Harry Potter attractions and maybe even watch one of the movies…