Well we've been pottering about this week ...

Trip Start Aug 08, 2002
Trip End Feb 01, 2004

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, November 17, 2002

Well, we've been pottering about this week, building up to the big event last Friday. I am, of course, talking about our trip to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (HP CoS.

Now both Abbey (little sis) and I big HP fans, so mum booked up weeks in advance (she booked online and we even went down and got the tickets before hand, to ensure we had them in our hands on the day, and no one could turn us away). The day arrived and we went to collect Abbey from school at 2:20 (which is when they finish over here). The showing was at 3:30 and the cinema was 15 minutes away.

We got there no problems, and mum dropped us off to join the queue (what? though I, I don't think I've ever stood in a line for a film before, not for 45 mins anyway, and not when I already had tickets) while she went to go find a parking space. She even wore her trainers as she thought she was going to have to park miles away (our showing was full, and so were the earlier ones, and with three screens showing it, that's about 600 people - or more importantly, the cars for 600 people, in the car park). As it turned out she parked behind the cinema, catching a space as one of the screens showing an earlier sitting came out, as most people had already parked and were in the line, we suddenly found spaces all around us, and people trying to get a cars that had a queue running past it.

The queue, now we joined it about 45 mins to go, and by that point it went up one lane of the car park (about 100 metres), around two cars and then back down a second lane. We were halfway down the second lane. By the time we started going in at 3:15, it was starting up a third lane! After about 5 mins, while Abbey and I were still looking for mum, we hear a shout. Looking round we see one of Abbey's friends mums in her 4x4 (more like a bus) yelling: 'Can they come and stand in line with you?' That way they'd jump up the queue a bit. First it was just 3 more, then 7, then 15. As time went on we just seemed to accumulate people who knew us, so that they people behind now had an extra couple of dozen people in front of them. Not that this seemed to faze most people, who were slightly more prepared that we were. The people at the front of the queue had fold-up chairs! Further back they had blankets, the guy a couple ahead of us was sat on a blanket with his girlfriend watching the first film on a portable DVD player. They even had a special refreshment stand at the front of the queue so you could buy drinks and hotdogs while you waited!

Even that paled compared to the crowd. It started off with people wearing Harry Potter t-shirts, some had Free Dobby t-shirts (that'll only make sense if you know the books, or have seen CoS). Then the real fun started. People in cloaks arrived. The best though, had to be the family who turned up. Mum was dressed as a witch, in cloak, hat, etc. The rest of the family were equally attired, except for the son. He was dressed as Harry Potter, he had the glasses, the cloak, the hat, and an owl (Hedwig to those in the know)!

So, finally they let us in, and the kaos begins. We all charge into the cinema, from both sides. The hunt for seats is on. Most of them were gone, or reserved (by people who had obviously gone for snacks) before we had even got there. We finally found three together, towards the middle, about 10 rows back. I pity the people on the front row. There were several announcements to say that it was a full show and that we had to take up every available seat. Abbey, by chance, was sat next to a schoolmate, and as people shifted to take up spaces, we ended up nearly dead-centre!

We had a two minute warning, as people were still arriving with trays and trays of snacks - buckets (literally) of popcorn, hot dogs, drinks, etc. The lights dimmed and a cheer went up. Then the announcer said: 'Are you excited to be here?' Everybody yelled. He said: 'You don't sound very excited. Are you excited to be here?' An even louder cheer went up. Then he added: 'Count down from ten and I'll start the film.' Everybody was shouting 'Ten, Nine, Eight...' Then he started it and everyone roared. It quietened down quick as it was only the trailers. Finally the Warner Bros. logo appears, then the words 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' in gold letters, flies towards up. There's a massive roar and everyone applauds. The first scene starts and there's another big roar. Finally it all quietens off with many people going 'sshh' (probably the parents).

As we go through the film, at various points, when the hero(s) do(es) something that the audience approves, there's a loud cheer and applause. When Dumbledore is clapping at the end, the entire audience is clapping too. As the credits appear, there's a massive round of applause and cheering. Throughout the film as well, there are parents leaving to take kids to the toilet, at least that's what we thought until one came back with another bucket of popcorn. Then a guy in the front row came back with another massive tray of stuff - can they not wait until the end, can't they survive for 2 and a half hours without yet more junk food? Despite having a load to start with, they need to reload! Then a woman squeezes past us with a little kid in her arms, neither mum or I remember seeing her going out, in fact we're certain she came from another row!

At the end, everyone begins to shuffle out, but not us. Abbey has heard there's something at the end of the credits. So, after the longest credits in history, in between which we're pointing out stupid things ('that's the forth special effects company', 'what's a best boy', 'what the hell are stand-in props'), many of which I'm trying to answer, we see a two second clip. Oh, that was worth it (note - that was sarcastic, it's just difficult to convey in writing). Mum meanwhile, is happy that the carpark is emptying with every minute we're sitting here.

As we walk past the ushers, ready to pounce on all the litter and debris left behind (I wonder what the wierdest thing they've ever found is). As we exit the cinema, there's a massive line waiting for the next showing, and a cop standing guard at the front (plus a half-dozen ushers). We head around the cinema to the car, as we pass a white one like ours, Abbey hurries round to get in the front passenger seat (and hence prevent me from getting it, relegating me to the back). She has the door open before mum can tell her that it's not our one. Thankfully, no one's in it. We spend the next several hours asking whether she's made sure the car she's getting in is ours.

Yesterday we went to see Star Wars: Episode II The Attack of the Clones, but on an IMAX screen (50 ft high, and this one was curved). People applauded that too.

In short people, go see an opening day release at a big movie if you're ever in the US, they're fun.

Gotta run, just off to go see an American Football game. And for all those of you stil interested, I'm off to New Zealand on Tuesday, it's a 12.5 hr flight, but I don't land until Thurday (work that one out).
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