“I’m a Hufflepuff and I’m proud!”
By Katie Gotta
Once upon a time there was a young mother on benefits sitting in a local coffee shop overlooking Edinburgh Castle. She began daydreaming about an extravagant castle of wizardry and a boy with a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt on his forehead. One day that boy learns of his Wizard powers and as he grows up he goes on magical adventures with his wizard friends in the attempt to stop the powerful (he-who-must-not-be-named) lord Voldemort. This of course is what became the historic story that J.K. Rowling wrote through the 7-book series of Harry Potter.
Where I grew up everyone loved Harry Potter. When the new movies came out I remember seeing nearly my entire school in line for the midnight premieres decked out in robes, hats, scarves, or anything Harry Potter related (I was Hermione for Halloween in 5th grade so I wore her robe to everything). Some may use the term super-fan as an insult, but that super-fan in me lead today to become one of the greatest days of my life.
We began the day by waking up at the crack of dawn, hopping on 2 trains, a bus and making our way to the nearby London suburb of Watford where Harry Potter was shot, produced, edited and ultimately released to the world. Though by just walking near the studio building it was hard to distinguish it as where the cast and crew had called home at for over 10 years due to the upgrades and redecorating post-filming, knowing that thousands walked through those doors to go make magic on a daily basis (this according to Daniel Radcliffe) was enough for me. My eye couldn’t help but wander to the enormous wall besides the studios and question what was going on just a few feet from where I was standing. I asked the staffer who was guiding us through the morning about it to which she gave a half-assed answer and I ultimately let it go knowing I wouldn’t get a real response. After going through security and grabbing a bite to eat, we were finally “radioed” into the office building attached to the studio. “This is it”, I said turning to my peers besides me, “we’re about to meet the President of Warner Brothers“. Thoughts raced through my head as he entered the room and I couldn’t help but keep my laser focus on the surprisingly small, yet insanely powerful man. As he began to tell us about his adventures, goals, story, and what he has done to get to where he is today, I couldn’t help but think of the global presence Warner Brothers has created. I shot my hand up to ask the President, Josh Berger, “What makes your position different through each country you work with such as Spain, Ireland and the UK?” to which he responded that knowing your audience is the best way to produce ultimate satisfaction. This got me thinking, how did the Harry Potter books and movies produce ultimate satisfaction in over 300 countries across the world? How did it get to this degree of recognition and superstardom? And most importantly, how has it continued its hype even 5 years following the release of the last movie installment?
The answer to this question was (kind of) answered by Mr. Berger to which he responded that himself and the entire staff at Warner Brothers have created a long-term plan until “the end of time” (direct quote) to keep the brand growing as much as possible. Part of this plan was through the opening of the Studio Tour which has fans coming from all ends of the globe just to visit, ultimately generating an insane amount of money per day as calculated below.
120 people being let into the studio tour every 10 minutes from 10am-7pm results in 6480 people entering per day. Multiply that times the admission price of 16 pounds per person and you have a daily income of 777,600 pounds just on tickets alone. Then you factor in an average of 5 pounds spent on food per person, and another 25 pounds on souvenirs and you’re up to another 32,400 and 162,200, respectively, with a grand total of almost 1,000,000 pounds made at the tour per day.
*Info given by working tour guide*
Josh Berger is the head of a Fortune 100 company, making him one of the most successful men in the world. Nothing he or the company does it for no reason, and through our one-hour discussion with him (which literally felt like 20 minutes) I realized this. Everything has been strategically planned and executed to ensure the continued global success of the franchise that is most important to Warner Brother’s studio. Mr. Berger even admitted himself that 20% of his entire job as President of Warner Bro’s UK (and Ireland and Spain) is dedicated to navigating the Harry Potter franchise. It is far from easy to oversee a company of this magnitude, but somehow he has managed to do so and I am entirely grateful to have gotten one hour from his day. I could do the math all over again, but instead, I’m just going to estimate that the hour we got with him was most likely worth thousands of pounds of his time, and that’s a pretty cool thing to be able to say I was apart of.
Following our time with Josh Berger, we made our way through the Studio Tour. As I turned through the never-ending groupings of props and sets I began to think of the memories the cast and crew created over their 10 year span here, imagining the young actors goofing off in every set. I ended up staying for over 4 hours at the tour but it was entirely worth it to see everything there, and by the end I was convinced I was due for a re-read and picked up the first book at the gift shop. In one sitting I read 100 pages and swore I wouldn’t read any more until the flight back home next week (we’ll see if I can follow through with that).
The story of Harry Potter is timeless, and truly one for all ages. I expect generations from now we will still be seeing both children and adults admiring the story with the same curiosity and wonder that myself and so many others have experienced.
“The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” – J.K. Rowling