July 8 (Bloomberg) -- “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” rolled out to the screams of sleepless fans in London yesterday, the final production in a film franchise that has made $6.37 billion at the global box office so far.
The last installment in Hollywood’s top-grossing franchise sees wizard Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) take on the nasty Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who has stolen a crucial wand that’s one of the keys to immortality.
Trafalgar Square at the U.K. capital’s heart was cordoned off completely by the movie’s producers -- Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. -- and paved with an Oscars-style red carpet that stretched several blocks to the gala screening. Teenage fans crammed the square to see the cast walk by.
“It’s over,” said Hannah Duffy, 14, who had taken the train from Frinton-on-Sea near Colchester. “Your childhood is not closing, but it won’t be the same without Harry Potter.”
Clutching a book from the original series by J.K. Rowling, Duffy said it had whetted her appetite for reading.
“Before that, I was like, books, you know, they’re OK,” she said. “Now, I own a Kindle and have loads of books on it.” She listed Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, and “old stuff” such as works by Shakespeare and Dickens.
Actors in “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” include Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith.
At the film’s July 6 news conference, Fiennes described his bad-guy costume as “irritating,” saying “it was too long and sometimes I would trip over it.”
“Underneath, I started off wearing tights, and the gusset of the tights kept dropping down between my thighs,” he said. “This made it very difficult to walk with any kind of dignity.”
Last night, as cast members and VIPs drove by in one metal-gray limousine after another, fans clustered on the edges of the walled-off square squealed with excitement, even as smoked windows often made the cars’ passengers invisible.
Security guards in fluorescent vests exercised crowd control, stopping teenagers from standing on walls or peeking through the canvas sheets that covered the tall railing. They even turned away commuters heading for the train station on the other side of the square, leading many to curse in frustration.
Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger, could clearly be seen as she rode through in the back of a Mercedes. Dressed in a strapless cream-colored gown, she waved at her fans, who shrieked at the top of their voices.
Watching her glide by was 16-year-old Sara Cravagnis from Padua, Italy, who said Watson was “a model” to her.
“She’s very intelligent without being boring,” said Cravagnis, in a Potter-style top hat and large, dark frames. “She’s also nice, and very beautiful.”
“When I was little, I used to identify with her: I too would help friends with their homework,” said the Italian fan, who said she read every Harry Potter book six or seven times and was vacationing in London with her mother.
Watson also had scores of male admirers in the square -- among them a pair of 18-year-olds from Poitiers, France, who had spent the better part of 48 hours there for a glimpse of her and the rest.
Bleary-eyed Nathan Audin explained that they had been standing from 3 a.m. to keep their spot, getting rain-soaked in the process, because tents were not allowed.
“We bought an umbrella,” said Audin. “It wasn’t very warm.” Their only food break, he said, was a jaunt to a nearby McDonald’s.
His friend Corentin Cheminot appeared much less tired.
“I told myself that an opportunity like this would only come once in a lifetime: to see so many actors I really like,” he said.
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