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Adult Audiences Flock to See “Deathly Hallows”

©2010 Warner Bros.

©2010 Warner Bros.

Last weekend’s ticket sales have proclaimed The Boy Who Lived to be king of the box office with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I raking in $125.1 million in the U.S. This is the biggest opening for the franchise and the sixth largest opening for any film. Ever. President of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., Dan Fellman attributes a large part of the franchise’s success to young adults (age 18-34) “and their aging process.” “When we first started Harry Potter and cast 10-year-old Daniel Radcliffe in the title role, parents drove their 10-year-olds to see the movies. Today, those same kids are now driving themselves to the midnight shows,” he tells The Wall Street Journal. When the first film was released, only about 10% of the audience was in the 18-34 year old demographic. But, with the 7th (and penultimate) installment, 25% of the audience is now in that age group.

But what keeps drawing adults to the tale of the boy wizard is more than just cracking good storytelling. Kate Bittman explains the attraction in a post on the The New Yorker website. “We started reading the Harry Potter series when we still had the pleasure of being somewhat carefree and ignorant; we weren’t yet the disillusioned, jaded youngish adults that we are now (although this is fun, in its own way). And so the Harry Potter movies are the ultimate form of escapism. Not only are they fantasy…but they, and their literary counterparts, have been that way since a time when our lives were somewhat fantastical, as well.

In an article for The Guardian, Bidisha writes of the impact that the Harry Potter series has had across cultures and age groups. “This kind of phenomenon, in which a story becomes a permanent myth before our very eyes, comes along not once a generation, but once an epoch…At heart, Potter is about identity, love, hate and anger: unmagical but intense and eternal themes that are treated with unromantic seriousness…[W]here would you be, these stories ask, if the worst thing in the world happened, but you survived? That’s Harry in a nutshell.”

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