“Harry Potter” Gets a Second Chance at the Silver Screen
At the start of September, a notification popped up in my Facebook feed. Movie theaters in my city had announced that they would be showing all eight Harry Potter movies in the run-up to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Soon, news spread that this would happen across IMAX theaters in the US. But for me in the UK, I didn’t see the wildfire of news, and instead, the event seemed like a rare opportunity confined to my local movie theater. So I bought my tickets and went once a week.
Personally, I considered this to be a second chance at the silver screen. I was only ever old enough to see Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in theaters, and that is where my love for Harry Potter began. At the time that Sorcerer’s Stone was released, I was just short of turning three. Seeing the movies on television each Christmas or watching them religiously every few weeks was all right, but I knew the experience would never be the same as watching them on the big screen. For lack of a better phrase, the eight-movie silver screen marathon was magical.
I left the theater after seeing Prisoner of Azkaban with my brother and realized how incredible it was to see the movie surrounded by Harry Potter fans. People returning to view a movie again in theaters over a decade after it was released on DVD aren’t going to be casual watchers. These are true Harry Potter fans, whether just of the movies or walking encyclopedias who whisper to the person next to them, “Well, that wasn’t in the book.” Cinema screenings were opportunities, rare opportunities, to be surrounded by Harry Potter fans who weren’t going to sigh in anticipation for the point when the credits started rolling but instead were there because they loved the movies and wanted to relive an experience from so long ago.
You notice so much more when given a vast screen and surround sound (e.g., did you know that you can hear Walburga Black’s portrait talking to Kreacher in Order of the Phoenix? I certainly didn’t). A benefit of viewing the movies in theaters is that you can rediscover some of the magic, wave your wand, and cast Alohomora, unlocking that which you had never noticed before. Viewings like this have the potential to make you learn to love a movie you have hated. Until going to watch Order of the Phoenix at my local AMC, Movie 5 had been my least favorite. But when Fred and George unleashed fireworks all over the Great Hall, I beamed in the light of the beautiful explosions of color accompanied with the amazing score in this movie. It quickly soared up my personal rankings. That is the power of the silver screen.
MuggleCast also recently discussed the news of the Harry Potter movies returning to theaters and pointed out a benefit of these screenings that I hadn’t even considered but now am so glad they mentioned. Many of the “Are You a True Harry Potter Fan?” quizzes you’ll find when browsing the Internet use the movies as a form of gatekeeping. The notion of being a true Harry Potter fan is often made exclusive to those who watched all the movies in theaters. That’s fine for those fans who have been with Harry from the very beginning, but for those of us who are younger or who are newer to the fandom, it isn’t fair.
Regardless of what those quizzes say, you know how much of a fan you really are. However, being able to see the movies in theaters once again remedies this. It allows those of us who for whatever reason haven’t been Potterheads since the 1990s and early 2000s to understand what is was like to finally see the magic unfold on screen. It gives us a chance to say, “Yeah… I did that too.” And that feels wonderful.