“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Albus Dumbledore
10 June 2016
by: Marisa Ruggirello
Song of the Day: Do You Believe In Magic // The Lovin’ Spoonful
Henry Ward Beecher, an American Congregationalist clergyman, said that books are the windows through which the soul looks out. I find this statement to be true, as I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. Reading was such an important part of my childhood and so naturally, so were the Harry Potter books. The first time I ever picked up a Harry Potter book, I was in kindergarten. My mother and I would take turns reading the pages aloud and each night we would enter the wizarding world, following Harry, Hermione and Ron and their adventure. It only took one book for me to be hooked and as I grew older, I continued reading. We would go to midnight premieres of when the next book was released and I would try and stay up as late as possible, devouring every word until my eyes could no longer stay open. The films also had an impact on my childhood and well into my teen years. I would attend midnight viewings with my friends in dark theaters, sitting at the edge of my seat, wondering what would match up accurately to the book or how an important scene was going to be portrayed. So imagine my excitement when I found out that we would be touring Warner Bros. Studios and partaking in the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
Before the tour, we were able to sit down with the president and managing director of Warner Bros., Josh Berger. He told us what his work responsibilities are and answered some of our questions. One would think that an American running the UK Warner Bros. division would have a Cinderella-like story as to how he became the president, but truly he stressed the importance of the connections that he had to get him into the entertainment business. The lesson to learn from that is to continue to pursue relationships with people you have worked with because you will never know whom or where they can take you. Although it was extremely intimidating to be in the same room as someone with that much power in a large company, the meeting was beneficial to say the least.
So. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for: the tour. I was unsure of what to expect, but I was completely blown away and if you ever find yourself in London-G O. Pay the fees, get a train ride, do whatever you can to get there. There are behind the scenes videos, actual props and sets used from the movie, as well as costumes that were worn. The first thing you see when you walk in is The Great Hall, with the tables set, ready for all the returning wizard students and fresh-faced first years to eat. The first stop sets the tone for the rest of the tour. As someone who has grown up with this franchise, it was incredible to see the props and sets that brought magic to the big screens.
Throughout the entire tour, I thought about the amount of advertising and marketing that has gone into the films and books throughout the years and even more so now with amusement parks and tour options throughout the world. There were countless trailers, commercials, billboards and advertisements strategically placed all over the globe over the last 15 years. As an advertising major, I imagine working on a project like this would have been an absolute home run every time. Between the actual storyline and the fervent fan base, any sort of teaser trailer or advertisement would cause a tidal wave of excitement and chatter.
Beyond the success of the films and books, the franchise has created a ridiculously profitable market. There are two Harry Potter Worlds at amusement parks in America, one in Orlando and one in Los Angeles. There are countless board games and video games, as well as toys and costumes, such as wands, cloaks and those iconic Harry Potter glasses. How many franchises can boast that with just one symbol (the lightening bolt) people will understand and recognize the movie? It is truly a unique phenomenon. Fans of Harry Potter continue to remain passionate all these years later and many Potterheads are now adults, with children of their own and they are now passing along the magic of Harry Potter to their kids. J.K. Rowling created a website called Pottermore where fans can get sorted into a House of Hogwarts, learn which wand that they have, practice spells and much more. She also uses it as a platform to keep fans updated on new and exciting things coming out of the wizarding world. Most recently, she announced the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film coming out this November and also the playwright Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the next installment of the Harry Potter series, that will be released to the public this July.
Harry Potter has arguably become the most successful film franchise of all time. (I see you Star Wars fans.) The world that J.K. Rowling was able to create and bring to life is not unlike what J. R. R. Tolkien was able to do with Lord of the Rings. The last film aired in 2011, however five years later, the franchise is still a booming industry. It touched the hearts of people all across the globe. People from all countries could relate and root for Harry and the themes of loyalty, humility and courage presented throughout the entire series was and is something that people could strive for in their daily lives.
For me, Harry Potter was more than just a movie or book series. It was something to look forward to, another book to conquer. It took me to another world and part of me anxiously awaited on my eleventh birthday for my own letter to Hogwarts. It brought me closer to my best friends in high school because we all were huge fans and even (embarrassingly enough) created our own ten-minute film of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I am confident that I am not the only one who gained life-long friendships due to the power of Harry Potter and that to me is actual, real-life magic.