MANATEE -- Midnight.
It was the bewitching hour, or the beginning of the end, for Harry Potter fans.
“It’s depressing,” said Kristi Gamble, 29, about the series ending. “This is where I came for my first midnight showing. It’s over 10 years of my life I either had a book or a movie to look forward to.”
Gamble was among hundreds of fans Thursday night who went to the Carmike Royal Palm Cinemas in Bradenton to watch “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” before taking in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” at midnight.
The theater played the movie in each of its 20 screens starting at 12:02 a.m. today and was nearly sold out of its nearly 3,000 seats by 9 p.m.
Most Harry Potter fans will tell you that they reread the corresponding book before watching a movie, re-watch the previous movie or do something along those lines to prep themselves for the next installment.
When “Part 1” came out, Gamble was among three diehard fans who went to the theater for a two-day Harry Potter movie marathon.
“It’s been a silly little part of my life,” she said smiling.
Katherine Pearson, 18, is no different in her love for the series.
She also went to see “Part 1” before at the theater before catching the final installment.
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“I’ve been to every midnight premiere and release,” said Pearson. “I started reading the books in second grade. I grew up with Harry Potter.”
Pearson was sporting the cape of Ravenclaw, one of the four houses of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
She also held a replica of a wand used by character Hermione.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” she said on her way into the theater.