The sight of little ones queuing outside a Mumbai multiplex in Harry Potter glasses to catch the boy wizard’s latest adventure said it all. In Delhi, the film’s release at a time when schools are reopening turned out to be a blessing in disguise — it has led to a spate of school block bookings.
Inside the theatre, though, Potter’s fifth outing was a different story. Watch The Order Of The Phoenix, and the signal is clear: Harry Potter is not about boyish charm anymore. His metamorphosis into a harried dude with larger worries to tackle was summed up best in the words of a five-year-old after Thursday’s Delhi premiere: “But mom, there was no quidditch match.” <b1>
Clearly, with the Dark Lord to fight, quidditch is no longer high on Harry’s list of priorities. His definition of ‘fun’ has changed — Harry courts romance this time, and actually gets his first kiss, with classmate Cho Chang. Oh, and he cuts a cool figure speeding past Big Ben on his super broom.
What’s important is that Potter’s target fan base is also growing up with him, so they don’t mind the change. “Harry is much more handsome now. The dark makeover has made the series more interesting. After this, I’ll look forward to the final novel’s release (Deathly Hallows) on July 21,” says fashion design student Anshika Singh. Regular moviegoers however, are not impressed. “It is only worth one watch,” says teenager Preeti Arora.
The trade, however, isn’t worried. “A great opening in Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore was expected. What’s amazing is that the film has opened to full houses in places like Nagpur, Indore and Baroda too,” says Saurabh Verma, vice-president (programming and distribution), Inox cinemas. Adds Sanjay Narayanan, marketing manager, Warner Bros (India): “The advance sales of Phoenix for the first weekend are about 40 per cent more than the last one, Goblet Of Fire.”
“Potter is no longer kid’s stuff,” reasons Shalu Sabharwal, head of sales and marketing, PVR.
(With inputs from Abhinav Kumar)