The U-Bend #15: 2004 in Review
by Andrew Lee and Robert Lanto
“And then exactly one year ago, Hogwarts had written Harry, and the whole story had come out.”
-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
A Rare U-Bend Apology: Due to circumstances beyond our control, there was a huge gap between the postings of U-Bend articles. We apologize for the long delay.
An extremely (belated) Happy New Year to everybody (especially J.K. Rowling for that wonderful Christmas gift)! Well the year is over and it’s time we looked back at what an eventful year 2004 was to us Harry Potter fans. This past year saw the arrival of the Prisoner of Azkaban, the street date of the Half-Blood Prince and of course the addition of The U-Bend (the only editorial to single-handedly drag down the collective quality of all the other editorials on Mugglenet). And that’s just for starters. Without further delay, let’s reminisce over the last year of Potter related events and it starts with…
January saw the return of Mugglenet Interactive, the most interesting broken/not broken part of MuggleNet (besides the editorials). While Prisoner of Azkaban was not even close to arriving in theaters, casting for Cho Chang (in Goblet of Fire) was well underway. Rumors that Rowan Atkinson would be playing Voldemort were also quietly squished. Mr. Bean as Voldemort? What’s next, Big Bird as Fawkes the Phoenix? Mugglenet also held a chat with Matthew “Neville” Lewis which revealed that the gift of a pepper can go a long way. In other POA news, Alfonso Cauron revealed that he wanted a scene with ‘… [an] organ, and tiny people jumping on the keyboards.’ Suddenly the jive talking shrunken heads don’t seem so bad.
February was a busy month even with the extra day (Hurray for leap years!). Viktor Krum casting was underway in Bulgaria as the Cho Chang auditions were wrapping up. The end of the month saw the list of potential Cho Changs reduced to eight and Krum still hadn’t been chosen. The Leaky Cauldron (our other source of up to the date Potter news) caught a glimpse at the ‘new’ HarryPotter.com as the trickle of PoA information finally turned into a flood. Pictures of returning and new cast members finally begin to surface.
If there was one thing that March will be remembered for it was the arrival of the newHarryPotter.com and the official PoA trailer (“Something wicked this way comes”). The trailer showed off the darker look of the new movie which was enhanced by the low brightness level of Robert’s monitor (remember that if Hogwarts looks entirely black for half the trailer it’s your monitor settings and not the trailer’s fault).
J.K. Rowling also reveals (in a post made on her official site which will be made public later) that she had entered Mugglenet’s chatroom incognito and was willing to divulge Book 7 secrets. Instead she found herself in the middle of Mugglenet’s annual Spongebob Squarepants Appreciation Day. If only she entered the chat on Saturday, which is Muffin Recipes and Book 7 Theories Day! Afterwards, Squidward sightings on Harry Potter chatrooms appear like wildfire, though J.K. admits that she hasn’t returned since (or has she?). Finally, as winter turned into spring, Warner Brothers still didn’t have any new casting news concerning GoF.
Mugglenet opens the month on a fine April Fool’s joke. Afterwards, Mugglenet immediately undergoes an entire week of server maintenance. Luckily it was a slow week and once service was fully restored the floodgates opened as news poured in. With Prisoner of Azkaban right around the corner, new interviews were appearing weekly, new pictures almost daily and the first bits of Goblet of Fire information begin to trickle in. Casting news is rather quiet again, leaving anyone watching the casting rather dazed and confused (hey, that last bit of new info was way back in February).
The fans rejoice! J.K.Rowling’s official site finally arrives! The only rumor-quashing, rumor-creating and official source of info from the master of the Potter universe, J.K Rowling’s site becomes the site for any Potter fan to visit. It also becomes the only website where people can try and enter their phone number into the cell phone and see if they get a response. Saturday Night Live airs a Harry Potter-themed sketch with wands from Alivan’s. The sketch involves a growth spurt by Hermione over the summer. All we have to say is that the things that networks can get away with labeled with TV-14 ratings these days is murder (coincidently, look for murder on FOX’s schedule next fall). In GoF movie news, the story goes that carpenters are told to rebuild everything oversized so that the trio still looks small. Also, Katie Leung is finally announced to be that certain girl shippers love to hate, Cho Chang. In the strangest twist ever, rumors fly that a Scottish boy is cast as Viktor Krum.
With the official PoA release right around the corner, PoA has its New York and London premieres. Emerson manages to attend both, making him the luckiest Potter fan that we both know and fear (Emerson, don’t forget to get us tickets for the GoF premiere!). The PoA video games are also released for Gamecube, PS2 and X-Box. The PS2 version features compatibility with the Eyetoy (a camera device for your PS2) allowing Potter fans around the world to jump up and down and wave their wands around much to the shock and horror of countless neighbors.
PoA finally arrives for the general public! The movie is well received and earns an enormous $41 million its opening weekend. The film eventually becomes the third highest grossing movie of 2004. However, the film is not without its critics. The movie splits the Potter community into three camps: pro-shrunken head, con-shrunken head and what happened to Malfoy’s hair?
The second half of the month is filled with rumors that Book 6 will be titled Pillar of Storge. J.K. appears a few days later to dismiss these rumors and gives everyone a chance to learn the real title if they can decipher the sequence of the brick wall. Robert fails horribly at it and beats Andrew. The media later announces that Book 6 will be titled Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Andrew’s shoulder is still bruised to this day.
The U-Bend appears!!! That’s right, the U-Bend is finally published in July. In a completely unrelated note, the number of complaints filed at MuggleNet reach an all time high. The U-Bend becomes the source for the strangest look at the Potter universe since the time that someone complained that Harry never bathes in the novels. J.K. Rowling also receives an honorary degree of doctor honoris causa from Edinburgh University. Dr. Rowling also answers the truth about Mark Evans — that he isn’t important to the story — proving that overanalyzing things can be a dangerous past time.
In movie news, the PoA cast finishes up their media blitz and returns to begin filming GoF. Warner Brothers finally announces the majority of the GoF cast, finally ending any confusion about casting in Harry Potter films forever (or at least until OotP casting begins). Also, there are hints that John Williams may not be able to score GoF, but given the CoS soundtrack would anyone notice?
Nothing happens in August. Ever. August is the most boring month out of all the months in the year. Don’t believe us? Think back, what did you do in August? That’s right. Nothing.
Actually, Mugglenet wins the coveted J.K. Rowling Fan Site of the Month Award. Meaning that all our hard work finally paid off (well, if you consider a two-month-old column hard work). The U-Bend’s Evil Harry and You is also published this month, forcing Emerson to return the award (just kidding folks!).
Mugglenet publishes an open letter to J.K., but forgets to include a question about Mars Bars. Mugglenet continues its winning streak with the Movies.com award for Best Movie Fan Site. The Mugglenet MUD (Multi-User Dimension) is announced to the public as well. All in all, it is a very busy month for Mugglenet. Potter movie news slows down as GoF filming enters secrecy mode. A study released this month also shows that being a Potter fan is a turn off for women (Andrew: Maybe that’s why I’m so lonely).
The month starts with Collectormania 6 where the fans mingle with the Potter movie stars and trade interesting memorabilia. Theonering.net gets its revenge on Mugglenet (for beating them in the Movies.com poll) by messing with the “Who should direct HP?” poll, placing Peter Jackson well ahead of the competition. Mugglenet staffers get the last laugh when the poll breaks and places Uwe Boll as the winner.
The PoA DVD information finally begins to hit the net in force. Deleted scenes are finally confirmed and the shrunken head gets to be the menu’s lead character. Elsewhere, huge bets and Vegas oddsmakers place Cho Chang as the next character to die in the Potter series. While J.K. confirms several upcoming chapter titles on her site (as a Halloween gift), “Chapter 21: Cho Chang Dies In This Chapter” is not among them.
The PoA DVD finally arrives! With a hip ad campaign of Hermione-can-kick-your-butt-around-the-block, the dvd sells a boatload of copies. In GoF news, Emerson and several other webmasters get a tour of the GoF set. The Yule Ball (Neville is going to tango?) and the Lake challenge are filmed this month as well. In even bigger news, Michael Goldenberg is announced to be in charge of adapting OotP to the big screen, so when your favorite scene is cut/changed you now know who to blame.
In Mugglenet news, the long awaited fanfiction section finally arrives. Still in development are the Mugglenet MMORPG and pine-scented Mugglenet. The U-Bend publishes its two SPEW related articles. Taking a different look at SPEW, the articles are met with extremely mixed reactions. In completely unrelated news, the number of complaints filed against a single editorial reaches a new record high (higher than the now removed “Pure Blood Super Wizards Are Our Superiors” editorial). But, the big news is that The Plot Thickens (a book written by Mugglenet readers) reaches bookstores. Offering an in-depth analysis by the fans of Harry Potter, the U-Bend authors are disappointed that their “Beauty and the Beast: Why Hermione and Grawp Make A Great Couple” is not among the published essays within.
J.K.’s official site gets decked out in holiday garb. However, the big news is the Half-Blood Prince. As an early Christmas gift, J.K. gives Potter fans the chance to find the Book 6 publishing date behind the locked door. The fans rejoice and doctors prepare for another round of “Hogwarts headache.” In movie news, GoF filming nears the 75% completion mark and the first official GoF screen shots are released to the public.
Andrew comes down with a cold and Robert disappears to his undisclosed location. The U-Bend is delayed for two weeks. In a completely unrelated note, the complaints filed to Mugglenet reach an all time low.
The new year dawns with the coming of the Half-Blood Prince and the Goblet of Fire movie. It’s going to be a good year for us Potter fans. (Andrew: Unless you’re a single guy).