The arrival of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," the final movie in the franchise, feels like the end of an era -- the first flick, after all, premiered in 2001, meaning we've spent nearly a decade watching the adventures of this boy wizard.
There is an overwhelming sense of melancholy that comes with the conclusion of such an epic cinematic journey, and there are sure to be plenty of tears when the credits roll on Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and the rest for the last time. But, take heart, Potterheads! There are plenty of reasons to be glad -- yes, glad -- that we're seeing the last of J.K. Rowling's creations on the big screen.
If you're in need of a post-Potter pick-me-up spell, we've put together a primer on finding a way to celebrate the silence that comes after "Deathly Hallows - Part 2."
1. No More Characters We Love Will Die
Do you remember watching Cedric Diggory's father grieve over his son's freshly murdered corpse? Or seeing Sirius Black struck down? Or Dobby's drawn-out demise? Or watching Dumbledore tumble away after having been Avada Kedavra'd by Snape? J.K. Rowling established pretty early on that no character, no matter how beloved, was safe from the icy hand of death, and each time it happened, it was like a stab in the heart for dedicated fans. But, with no more original "Potter" stories set to come (from official sources -- your epic Neville Longbottom fan-fic trilogy doesn't count), we can rest easy knowing that anyone who makes it to the end of "Deathly Hallows - Part 2" lives safe and sound to a ripe, old age. We'll enjoy letting ourselves finally exhale.
2. The Complete Collection on DVD/Blu-ray
All of the previous "Harry Potter" movies are available for home viewing, and we're sure "Deathly Hallows - Part 2" will get its own individual release. But personally, we're salivating for a super-duper eight-part package stuffed with enough bells and whistles to make Peter Jackson feel like his "Lord of the Rings" extended editions are paltry and inadequate by comparison. Warner Bros. would be out of their minds not to do something like this, and given that every single cinematic release in this franchise has come in the age of DVD, there's bound to be a cornucopia of behind-the-scenes footage, special-effects archives, interviews with the cast, etc., etc. It could, and should, be enough to engross a Potter fan for a full week or more, and we can hardly wait. Get on it, WB.
3. J.K. Rowling Will Throw Wide the Gates of Pottermore
We've been intrigued by the concept of Pottermore since J.K. Rowling first announced it back in June. Billed as an interactive reading experience, the site should immerse users in the world of witches and wizards, offering the opportunity learn spells, be sorted into houses, and visit locations from the books. That's all well and good, but what entices us most is the promise of the release of Rowling's notes on the universe she created, further fleshing out the characters, institutions and workings of a place many people have occupied in their imaginations for over a decade. For fans of the books, getting that kind of insight from the person behind it all will be like looking into the ultimate pensieve.
4. No More Painful Waiting
The agony of hanging on for new developments in the adventures of Harry Potter has been mitigated somewhat since the last book was released in 2009, but even though we've known what happens for a while, there's still a sense of breathless anticipation that comes with waiting for the next piece of official Potter lore to arrive. With the movies, in particular, there was the suspense that came with wanting to see whether the folks involved could capture the experience of the books on the big screen. They've done a pretty good job of it each time (some better than others), but still, there was always that nail-chewing nervousness that came with each trailer and/or teaser clip. NowPotterites can kick back, relax, and point and laugh as "A Song of Ice and Fire" fans tear their hair out.
5. We Can Start Counting Down to the Inevitable Remake
"Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" is almost a decade old. This is practically a century and a half in Hollywood time, and it's therefore not out of the realm of possibility to believe that we might see the entire cinematic franchise rebooted before too long. We know, it seems kind of preposterous now; but if you'd told us 10 years ago they'd be remaking "The Thing," "Fright Night" and "Teen Wolf," we would have scoffed, and look where we are today. There's sure to be a cooling-off period after the release of the last film, but give it three to five years, and we'll bet the words "muggle" and "butterbeer" will be on the lips of one studio executive or another. We can't imagine someone doing Snape better than Alan Rickman, but aside from that, the possibilities have already started percolating in our feverish fanboy/girl brains.
6. Marathon Screenings Now Possible
Sure, you stood in line for hours to catch the midnight screening of each and every "Harry Potter" movie. You spent a year constructing a shrine to Richard Harris in your house, then had to scrap the whole thing and start over with Michael Gambon after "Prisoner of Azkaban." But if you REALLY want to prove your Potter-fan bonafides, you'll have to take the ultimate test: a marathon viewing of the entire eight-part film franchise. Sure, this would actually take almost 24 hours, but imagine the excitement as you and your closest wand-wielding friends (or them and a whole crowd of fans, if anyone's ever crazy enough to do this in a movie theater) settle in for the full run. It'd be nearly 10 years of cinematic history and seven years of wizarding mythology jam-packed into one day, and we'd be lying if we said we were sure it's a mountain we could climb. But there would be great joy in the attempt.
7. The Actors Can Get on With Their Lives
Many, many thespians have flitted in and out of the "Potter" films, and most of them have managed to do just fine in other avenues. The main cast, however, has had to deal with being associated solely with their character names for most of their adult lives (sure, Daniel Radcliffe has built something of a successful stage career, but the posters for his latest Broadway effort, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," might as well have screamed "STARRING HARRY POTTER!"). We can't feel TOO bad for them -- after all, if they get depressed about it, they can go cry into their pillows stuffed with checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars -- but still, we do hope that Rupert, Emma, Daniel, and the rest are able to ride off into a sunset of fulfilling and Potter-free lives. Plus, now Alan Rickman is free to be in more stuff, and that's always a bonus.
8. No More "NYEEEAAAAAAH!"
We love Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of Voldemort -- he's appropriately fey and slimy and frightening and potent all at the same time. It's just... there's this one sound bite of him howling in rage and exertion that the producers of the trailers for the "Harry Potter" films have apparently decided is the coolest thing ever, and therefore must be used at EVERY POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY. If you watched the most recent previews for "Deathly Hallows - Part 2," you may have heard it, oh, seven or eight times in two minutes. It kind of sounds like "NYEEEAAAAHHH," and it's... well, it's just ridiculous. Voldemort is one of the great villains in movie and fantasy fiction history, and the last thing we want forever associated with him in our memory is something that's akin to the sound a cow would make if you threw it out of a perfectly good airplane.
9. Makes Room for the Next Great YA Film Franchise
Since the "Harry Potter" films first blew away the box office, there have been several other young adult fiction-based flicks that have attempted to steal some of their thunder. Suffice it to say that neither "Percy Jackson" nor "The Golden Compass" nor any other pretender has managed to unseat the 900-pound gorilla that is this cinematic behemoth.
With "Potter" vacating the stage, however, there's going to be a power vacuum, and we're excited to see who will rush in to fill it. Will it be the gladiatorial action of "The Hunger Games," starring awesome actress Jennifer Lawrence? Will it be the mysterious "The Mortal Instruments"? Will it be the dream-tripping "Wake," starring none other than Miley Cyrus? The field is wide open, and the good news is that the Potter-set precedent demands that studios will treat these beloved series with the proper respect. For fans of intelligent, emotionally demanding stories, this is a very good thing.