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The Burrow: Going Out with a Bang

An original editorial by hpboy13

It is time to plan the end of the Harry Potter movies. However, there are still several things to consider. First off, will they make as much money as the previous ones did? Any way you look at it, HP is no longer going to be the pop culture phenomenon in 2010 that it was in 2007. There are “new Harry Potters” everywhere, be it Twilight or Inkheart or anything in between. While none of these is truly anywhere near comparable with HP, the fact remains that in 2010 HP won’t be as hyped as it once was. So to milk those last billion dollars out of this franchise, Warner Bros. has to go out with a bang.

The books have gotten progressively longer until now, yet for some reason the movies have stayed the same length. Two and a half hours was perfect for a 300 page book, but it is far from perfect for a 900 page book. I’ve been in the online fandom since 2003, and people have been complaining about the movies as long as I can remember. However, as time progressed, the complaints became much more widespread, and much more valid. In the first two movies, really, only the most nitpicky fan could have complained – Sorcerer’s Stone was transitioned almost word-for-word onto the screen, and so was Chamber of Secrets. The movies were just the right length, SS became the top grossing movie after Titanic (and it is still the #4 movie of all time), and people were praising them far and wide. The first movie is actually what got me into HP, and remains my favorite (CoS loses that position due to the Acromantulas – I’m arachnophobic). But then we hit a snag with Prisoner of Azkaban – the book was 100 pages longer, yet the film was to remain the same length. It was possible for a decent movie to have been made, but Alfonso Cuaron, instead, took out most of the plot and all of the backstory, leaving moviegoers and HP fans confused and disappointed. PoA remains the lowest-grossing HP movie to date.

But with Goblet of Fire, a book two and a half times the length of the first, keeping the movie the same length became utterly ludicrous. What had the potential for a great movie felt simply too rushed to be easily comprehensible and enjoyable. All subplots were taken out (most notably SPEW, Dobby, and Rita Skeeter’s undoing). All essential plot points were rushed, and it just wasn’t that good. However, the movie makers didn’t learn their lesson, and proceeded to make Order of the Phoenix the same length as its predecessors. By some miracle or other, an enjoyable and mostly comprehensible movie was made. However, at the end, I still had to explain what on earth was going on with the prophecy to my friend. Also, all but the most essential details were cut out – prefects, “Weasley Is Our King,” St. Mungo’s, Marietta Edgecombe, Petunia’s Howler, and much more. It’s the wonderful subplots and minor characters that set HP apart from other fantasies, because the hero’s journey and battle against evil is nothing unique, yet I’m sad to see it go. Looking forward from now, we have no reason to expect anything different from the movie version of Half-Blood Prince.

Deathly Hallows, however, can still do its book justice. And as the last movie, it’s the filmmakers’ last chance to get it right. I doubt they want the movies to go down in infamy in the HP community, with the fans hissing about everything that was left out until they finally make remakes in fifty years. What they want is to have moviegoers come out of the movie theater saying, “Wow, they really went out with a bang.” But how will they do that? They sure as heck can’t make DH a two and a half hour film, or even a three hour one, because there’s just too much to take in. The final battle itself can easily take up two hours, what with the fighting, the mourning, the speeches, and a proper chat with Dumbledore at the end (which we haven’t had since the golden days of Richard Harris).

They could always make a four hour film or five hour even. However, that’s simply not realistic as a money maker. The hardcore fans, like us, would certainly go to a five hour movie, and enjoy it all the way through (provided they had bathroom breaks during the movie). But the little kids wouldn’t sit through it, which means the families with little kids wouldn’t sit through it, which means it would be a financial disaster. It worked for Titanic, because it was PG-13, and was aimed at a more mature audience. It won’t work for this.

So the only option left is to make two movies. I think it would make sense for Warner Bros., financially, because most people are willing to sit through two movies, and if they’ve followed HP so far, they’ll dish out an extra $10 to see the last movie properly made. The movies can be split at two different points. The first option would be to end the movie in Shell Cottage before the Gringotts break-in. But I think that the Gringotts break-in would be too much if stuffed in with the Battle of Hogwarts, and the break-in would be a good climax for the first film. So I think they should end the first part with the trio flying off on the dragon into the sunset. It would be a bit like the ending of The Golden Compass. Then the second movie can pick up from there, and I think two hours will be easily filled.

If the filmmakers do do this, they’ll have enough time for everything, so I’d expect this movie to have every little detail from the books. Bring back Rita Skeeter (no need to mention her Animagus issues) and the book. Find a way of bringing Dobby back (if the filmmakers leave Dobby out, I swear I’ll boycott the movie, be it in one part or two). Get the whole Bill/Fleur thing going. DEFINITELY include the reconciliation between Dudley and Harry. I suppose that the Death Eater meeting and Charity Burbage, however compelling, are largely dispensable, so I don’t expect them to make it. I think they should include the obituary and Auntie Muriel, but in a condensed version. And it would be nice to see Krum again (I wonder if Jo gave him a beard in the book to go with movie-Krum). Where Voldemort murders Gregorovitch can probably be left out, but Grindelwald definitely shouldn’t be. I think it would be a good idea to expand the bit about young Dumbledore and Grindelwald, now that we know that Dumbledore was in love with Gellert. Teddy Lupin and Andromeda and Ted should definitely be kept in, as well as Dean’s role. And the line I want kept above all others is “Look at me.” That’s arguably one of the most significant lines in the series. Also, I want Umbridge back, along with the Muggle-Born Registration Committee – she’s the one we all love to hate. Knowing Hollywood, they’ll capitalize on the romance – the scene between Harry and Ginny at the beginning will probably be at least five minutes long, and I’m guessing Ron and Hermione’s kiss will also be well drawn out.

Some things are no-brainers to leave as is: the chase on the way to the Burrow, the entire final battle, the Gringotts break-in, Moody’s death, the Ministry escapade, escape from Malfoy Manor, and so forth. What I hope they include above all else is Potterwatch, since that was one of my favorite parts of the book. I also really want to have the scene where Harry enters Luna’s room, and we see the whole friends painting and everything – that always brings a tear to my eye. And I’d really love it if we got a proper Snape’s Worst Memory scene here, even if some of Snape’s memories get butchered. Also, I really hope the Epilogue is done justice, and isn’t just a “Nineteen Years Later” followed by a ten-second glimpse of Harry and Co. on Platform 9 ¾.

All in all, Warner Bros. has their work cut out for them with the last movie version in the series. The only reasonable thing to do would be to split DH into two movies. I really hope they don’t screw this one up. I want the last movie to be a fitting end to HP, since after that all we can do is wait for the Scottish Book.