Tri-Citians prepare for latest Harry Potter film

It's possible you've never heard of Harry Potter -- if you haven't picked up a magazine, turned on the TV or left the house in the past 12 years.

But more likely you are one of 400 million people who have bought the books. Or you've contributed a fistful of dollars to the $5.4 billion -- yes, that's billion with a "b" -- that the movies have grossed around the world.

If you have let your mind wander to the halls of Hogwarts, the wizards' campus where much of the story centers, chances are you can't wait for Friday.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One, the latest, and penultimate, installment of the movie series, will be in theaters Nov. 19.

The two theaters in town screening the flick on opening day are gearing up for capacity crowds and devoting a combined 3,000 seats to the first show at 12:01 a.m.

Fervent fans of all ages are ready.

Taking the grandkids

Although the books and movies are wildly popular with people not old enough to vote, the young wizards have inspired admiration in somewhat older fans too.

"I'm really excited," Carma Hanna said. "I really like Harry."

She's 70 and owns every one of the books and movies released so far.

Losing herself in the fantastical world of wizards and witches has helped Hanna bond with her three grandchildren.

"Me and my grandkids love it," she says. "Whenever (the movies) first come out, I take the kids and we go."

She'll definitely do so Friday, albeit not for the midnight showing. Two of the kids are too young.

If you think the children turned grandma into a fan, think again. Hanna read the first book to her oldest grandson, Kele, when he was too little to read it on his own. The other two followed suit over the years.

But the cultural phenomenon has left the middle generation of the family cold. The grandkids' parents might watch the movies when they're on cable, Hanna said.

Their offspring goes to grandma's to indulge.

"When they come over to my house, they ask if we can watch the movies," Hanna said.

They will watch them again this week. The two generations of muggles are definitely re-playing all six previous releases again to prep for the Friday premiere, Hanna said.

And they'll make sure to see the new one the day it comes out. "We'll be there, maybe even more than once," she said.

A marathon of magic

For those who don't own all six movies or who want to see them on the big screen to warm up for Friday, Carmike Cinema on North Center Parkway in Kennewick will show the whole series in a two-day marathon.

The six movies will play in order at 3, 6 and 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, said Carmike's general manager, Doug Moon. Tickets for the whole series, also good for admission to the midnight premiere, are $25.

It remains to be seen how many fans want to spend two half-days in the theater, but Moon expects to sell out every seat in the multiplex for the new movie. All of the cinema's 12 screens are showing Deathly Hallows at midnight.

Over in Pasco there's no marathon, but the Fairchild Cinemas on Convention Drive also are letting the wizards take over the place at 12:01 a.m. Friday, said manager Rodney Gilbert. That's another 12 screens of Potter likely selling out.

Each of the cinemas holds 1,500 people. Expect a line.

Camping out for Harry

Fans are bound to cue up early for the good seats, but Megan Haney aims to be first in line.

She and a group of friends are heading to the Fairchild early on Thursday. Not to buy tickets -- they did that online days ago.

They're going to get in line 16 or 17 hours before the movie starts.

She's done it before, for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last year. One big difference: That movie came out in July.

"It's going to be pretty cold out there in the morning," Haney said cheerfully.

To say nothing of the time after sundown Thursday, at the end of a November day spent sitting, standing and crouching on concrete.

But she and her friends have thought of a good way to distract themselves. They're bringing a portable DVD player and all six movies. They will catch up on the series on the sidewalk outside of the theater.

Haney is excited about the movie, to say the least. But she likes the books even more. The longer the better -- and she said she's not a voracious reader otherwise.

"The last one is my favorite," Haney said. "I really like that they get longer; it gives you more to read."

More to read indeed: Deathly Hallows packs 784 pages. The movie released next week is the first of two covering the dramatic final book of the epic tale.

Harry Potter has been more than a beach read for Haney. As the 17-year-old high school senior has grown up; so has the wizard.

The girl will exit Richland High next summer. Her fictional friend will be done studying magic about the same time.

As she heads out into the world, the final movie will be released in mid-July. That opening night will be bittersweet for her.

"It's sad," she said about the prospect of the series ending. "There'll be nothing to wait for anymore."