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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

‘Harry’ Conjures Up Big Audiences

Costumed and not, Potter fans pack local theaters for midnight premiere.

For the past six years, Brandi Gilliland, Daniella Choynowski and Briana Choynowski have dressed up for midnight showings of "Harry Potter" films and for book-release parties as each new title hits the screens and shelves.

So for the first screenings of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth film in the seven-part series, the three dressed in the style of the girls in Harry's Gryffindor dormitory. They wore schoolgirl skirts and gray wool sweaters, homemade wands at the ready.

The three were among many local Harry Potter fans who descended Tuesday night upon the Regal Manor movie theater on Millersville Pike. The mostly teen and young adult crowd came both in and out of costume to catch the area's first showings of the latest Harry Potter film.

The film follows Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) during their fifth of seven years at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as they deal with the fallout from the rise of Harry's nemesis, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), and the arrival at the school of a meddlesome government official, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton).

Fans arrived hours before the scheduled premiere, which the Hollywood Reporter said was slated to show in 4,285 theaters nationwide.

Brandi Gilliland, and Daniella and Briana Choynowski came shortly after 10 p.m. dressed as Gryffindor students.

"In school, I was known as the person who was obsessed with (Harry Potter)," Gilliland said. Mike and Jennifer Fuller, of York, arrived at 10:30 p.m. with their 10-year-old nephew, Craig Jahnkey, of East Hempfield. Jahnkey said he bought his ticket two weeks before the showing Tuesday."

It's a healthy break from reality," Mike Fuller said of the film. "(Going opening night) kind of makes it special."

The final book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," is set to be released July 21.

Get your own Harry Potter costumes and accessories at Annies Costumes.

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