Ultimate Year in Review: 2011
For MuggleNet’s 20th anniversary, we are looking back at the past 20 years in Harry Potter history to bring attention back to its most significant moments. This is a series of articles that will run over four months. Our previous article covered the year 2010.
This week, the Time-Turner takes us all the way back to 2011, a year full of political events and technological developments: In several countries of the Middle East, the Arab Spring protests started a unique movement, which would cause leadership changes in some countries; the terrorist Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US military; Charlie Sheen was fired from Two and a Half Men; US band R.E.M. split up after 31 years; Prince William and Kate Middleton got married; and Apple founder Steve Jobs died.
In news surrounding Rowling, the Harry Potter franchise, and MuggleNet, 2011 was a year that ended one era and started the next.
In March 2011, Warner Bros. announced that the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter would open in spring 2012. In their press release, they let fans know that the tour would feature “the authentic sets, costumes, animatronics, props, and effects used in the production of all eight Harry Potter movies, [as well as showcasing] the British artistry, technology, and talent that went into bringing this beloved film series to life.” The first official poster featuring the new logo was released alongside this statement.
Further, in March, throughout ABC Family’s Harry Potter Weekend, we got new video content of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint on the last day of principal photography. Producer David Barron announced the clip, which is from the scene when the trio escapes from the Ministry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. Off-screen, you can hear David Yates yell “cut” for the final time, and the people in the studio break into applause. Years later, we would get an extended version of this video that shows the trio in a group hug, overcome with emotion, as a chapter in their lives comes to an end.
The end of June saw J.K. Rowling announcing Pottermore. With a video message, Rowling told her readers about the new website and the unique content it would deliver to fans if they simply followed the owl: the first Harry Potter ebooks, a visit to Ollivander’s wand shop, and a Sorting quiz that would sort you into your very own Hogwarts House, as well as access to all the additional information Rowling created while writing the book series. Rowling commented:
Pottermore has been a really great way to give back to the ‘Harry Potter’ readership, who made the books such a big success. I am still receiving countless, a huge amount of mail – I thought it would really drop off by now. Stories, drawings, suggestions I write prequels, sequels, every week.
On July 7, 2011, the world premiere of the final film, Deathly Hallows – Part 2, took place in London. Fans from all over the world assembled to see the stars take to the red carpet for the last time. Watch as J.K. Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint give an emotional goodbye to the Potter series.
This moment will forever be one of the most bittersweet for fans to watch, but remember what Rowling told us then:
Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.
Following the end of the films, MuggleCast got to interview director David Yates and actor Oliver Phelps (George Weasley) for their podcast episode 235. Listen to the episode here to learn more about the challenges of working on such a big franchise for both the director and the actor. Yates specifically addressed the tough decisions to cut material from the films:
I get frustrated at some of the things we take out too, because we’re all fans of the material of the original books, but you have to make choices sometimes to make sure that what we end up with in the theater, ultimately works on its own terms.
Another interview following the films’ end was with the late Alan Rickman where he talked about portraying Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films and the challenges that role presented to him. Addressing how much he knew about Snape’s journey and if he had the privilege of sitting down with Rowling to discuss his character, Rickman stated:
… you’re never quite sure what the agendas are, so there’s as big a question mark over my head as I’m reading it and playing it as there is over everybody else’s, until it’s resolved. You know that the stakes are always very high for him, whatever the outcome proves to be.
In August, BBC aired a new segment that showed parts of a new interview with J.K. Rowling about Pottermore. Rowling discussed ebooks and her preference for print over digital while understanding the advantage of the new form. She said that Pottermore was the right platform for her to share the additional information on characters, history, and places in the wizarding world with her readers.