For those of you who slept through the weekend, you may not have heard stats like 'Harry Potter 7.2 beat the record for best Thursday night opening with 45 million dollars', or 'Harry Potter 7.2 has the biggest weekend opener ever, making $168.6 million'. I know you are thinking: "I'm sorry - did you just say that the last of 8 Harry Potter films made 168.6 million dollars... in one weekend?" And yes, it is true.
Before you start getting upset about how the country is most likely in a double-dip recession and some production company just made 16% of a Billion dollars, think about how important a lesson just occurred. I heard the stats and I cried. I cried? What kind of a response is that? My husband looked at me and said, "What are you crying about? You are talking about sales statistics?" Well, let me tell you...
I cried for several reasons - not the least of which is that I cry at every book's ending. A cathartic response to saying goodbye to characters I have loved for 250 - 500 pages, I cry at the end of almost every book I read. If I don't cry - then I didn't really like the book at all, and while my plans to see the movie don't occur until this upcoming weekend, I know I won't be disappointed (I take no shame in crying in public).
But the biggest reason I cried is probably the most important. I sat there in the car, listened to the statistics, and began talking about a set of books that defined an entire generation, a set of books that were meant for children, but read and loved by old and young alike, a set of books that has been translated into more than 26 languages and crossed cultures and country borders, a set of books that required crowd control at the release of its 7th and final installment. As if that weren't enough, it is my opinion that Harry Potter brought boys back to reading. The boys who already read, they don't need a good story with a large amount of hype to pick a book up off of the shelf, but most do... and in 1998, Harry Potter delivered.
Yes.... I am crying even writing this.
The movies have made the books even bigger, but it hasn't been since STAR Wars that a series of movies or books defined a generation so broadly. The way my dad talks about taking my brother to see STAR Wars when he was young is the way you might talk about taking your kids to see the Harry Potter movies when they are older. If you haven't read any of the books yet, don't hesitate to pick them up and begin. Taking a long car trip? Check out the audio versions of the books... they are most wonderful (and Tony award winning). Read them already? You know you want to read them again.
Most people who already read the entire series when they first came out read them multiple times. Every time a new movie came out, mysteriously all copies of Harry Potter books were gone in an instant... people come back again and again wanting the comfort of an old friend. And yes, in these hard and sometimes harsh economic times, it might seem a little frivolous of us to spend 168.6 Million dollars in a weekend, but it is in these times that people reach for something to comfort them, and this weekend, we all reached for a little magic in the hand of Harry Potter.