* Final Harry Potter movie premiere a week away
* Brings curtain down on hugely successful film franchise
* Eighth picture could break records, experts predict
By Mike Collett-White
LONDON, June 30 As the studio behind the Harry
Potter films likes to remind us, "It all ends here".
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2", the eighth
and final instalment in one of cinema's most successful series,
has its premiere in London in a week, and experts predict
records could tumble when it hits theatres on July 15.
The cast and crew have promised the most explosive Potter
movie yet, even though computer-generated special effects and
action scenes have been predominant throughout.
"The last movie is going to be really, really fast-paced and
a load of action in it and it is like a war film," Harry Potter
actor Daniel Radcliffe told Reuters in a recent interview.
The final film, the first Potter instalment to be available
in 3D, will reveal whether boy wizard Potter prevails over his
evil nemesis Lord Voldemort in a classic good-versus-evil
climax, although J.K. Rowling's novels provide the answer.
TIMELINE-Potter saga ends with 8th film
FACTBOX-The Harry Potter phenomenon
Knowing what happens next is unlikely to dampen enthusiasm
among the huge fan base Rowling has built up through the seven
books and movie adaptations, for whom Deathly Hallows Part 2
will be a bitter-sweet moment.
For millions of mostly young people around the world, the
release of each Harry Potter novel or movie was a major event,
explaining the long queues outside bookshops and screaming
crowds at red carpet film launches.
"I've had eight years of my life with something to look
forward to with the next Harry Potter, and it's about to end,"
said Ren Bishop, a 21-year-old from Springfield, Missouri in the
"As a fan I'm sad; it's like saying goodbye to an old
friend," added the two-time local Potter trivia champion.
Befitting such a landmark film, Hollywood studio Warner Bros
will take over London's historic Trafalgar Square for the red
carpet premiere, making space for the anticipated crowds dressed
in Potter costumes and intense media interest.
LIFE AFTER POTTER?
For weeks plasma screens in Tokyo and advertisements across
Britain have been flagging the sendoff, which is set to be
marked with parties, stunts and promotional events.
On the red carpet will be the actors playing Harry, Ron and
Hermione, aged between nine and 11 years old when they were cast
and who have grown up in the bubble of super stardom.
For Rupert Grint (Ron), Radcliffe (Harry) and Emma Watson
(Hermione), the transition to life post-Potter may not be easy,
despite the fact that all three have sizeable personal fortunes
and other acting options to pursue.
For Warner Bros, the end of Potter, its most bankable
property, is equally daunting.
The seven movies released so far, starting with "Harry
Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone" in 2001, have
grossed $6.4 billion at the box office, averaging close to $1
billion per picture.
Although the figures hide a steady decline in admissions,
with the first film still the most successful, experts predict
that the combination of higher 3D ticket prices and anticipation
surrounding the final chapter could see Deathly Hallows 2 break
Website Boxofficemojo said it could even eclipse the North
American opening weekend record of $158.4 million set by Batman
blockbuster "The Dark Knight" in 2008.
The movies are only a part of a lucrative Potter industry.
Author Rowling's seven books have sold more than 400 million
copies globally, and there are toys, video games and a theme
park tied to the books and movies.
Despite the imminent disappearance of Potter from the big
screen, Rowling wants to ensure that he lives on, commercially
as well as creatively.
Last week she launched a new website Pottermore which will
develop characters and storylines from the books and allow
readers to interact and navigate her magical world.
There is also a shop, the exclusive vendor of the
soon-to-be-launched ebooks along with other merchandise.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)