Harry Potter at Midnight

Last night (or I suppose I should say early this morning) we watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Price. We had debated for a couple weeks as to what time to see it. Jamie and I have been to every Harry Potter movie on opening day so there was no question we’d be seeing it on July 15th, but what time. We’ve been to morning, afternoon, and evening showings (in three different states!), but never have we done a 12:01 am showing before.

At first we thought we’d have to do the 12:01 or 9:40 am because Jamie was supposed to head to Ireland on a business trip this evening, but that has been pushed back a bit so we could go at any time. The big kids really, really wanted to both see the movie (we’ve spent the last several weeks watching the first five movies, one per week, in preparation for the sixth one) and to see it at midnight. I wasn’t so sure they would stay awake if we went in the middle of the night so we were planning on going at 4:30.

Yesterday afternoon I remembered that Ani has Activity Days at church tonight and if we went to see Harry Potter at 4:30 she couldn’t go to her activity. She thought long and hard and finally decided she’d rather go to Harry Potter, but she was disappointed at the idea of missing her activity. So Jamie and I talked and he ran by the movie theater on his way home from work and got tickets for two adults and two children to see the movie at 12:01 am.


The big kids did a total happy dance when I told them the tickets had been purchased. And so began the long wait from 8 until 11 when we’d leave. Three hours is an eternity to children more excited about something that I think I have ever seen them. They watched the 1998 version of The Parent Trap. We read our scriptures. I read several chapters in our family read aloud. And, finally, it was time to go.

But we hit a big snag. Fritz was not going with us. After seeing the movie and knowing how he has been watching earlier (and scarier) installments, I know he’d be fine with the movie. Just not a midnight. He almost definitely would have fallen asleep early on. He had gone to sleep while watching The Parent Trap, then woken up briefly and fallen asleep again during our read aloud. A few minutes before 11 I took him into my parents’ room. We figured that was the best place for him in case he woke up and we weren’t there.

Unfortunately, he woke up and started screaming when I tried to lay him down. He didn’t want to have a slumber party with Mommis and Daddis. He wanted to be with me. So we moved him to our couch, turned on WETAKids and left. Later my mom said she dozed until he got up and headed for our bedroom at midnight. She went with him and slept in our bed until we got home. Thank goodness for a grandmother willing to do that!

About 11, we were off and headed to the movie theater. We were concerned about Fritz keeping my mother awake, but our attention was quickly turned to the movie. We counted 138 other cars on the road in the few miles between our house and the theater. And then we were there.


Ani and Cameron were beside themselves with excitement. Adrian woke up in the van and was wide awake when we got to the theater. Ani, Adrian, and I went to get seats while Jamie and Cameron waited in line for popcorn, candy, and soda. The movie was playing on three screens. One was sold out before we got our tickets. The one we were in was close to sold out and from the looks of how many people were going into the third theater, that one was, too. After looking a bit we found four seats together. I think we had a total of 3 options and it was only 11:20! The theater was packed mostly with older teenagers and college students, but there were some older couples including at least one gray-haired set, too. We only saw one other family with a child, about 12 years old. Yes, we are the crazy ones who bring a 7 and 9 year old (and a 1 year old!) to a midnight movie.

(I must interject a comment here about the bathroom at the movie theater. I remember when this theater was built. It was NICE. Now, it’s just… not. The floors are sticky. The whole thing looks a little dirty. Cameron wonders if they have a mouse problem. But the bathroom. It seriously smelled like an outhouse and the trash can was majorly overflowing. Gross.)


After watching what AMC Theaters considers before show entertainment (ads, basically), the movie finally started at 12:01 am. And so we sat through 5 or 6 more ads for movies. My sister used to say that you can tell how good a movie is based on how many trailers for other movies they run beforehand. A bad movie often just has a couple while a really good movie will have 5 or 6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is definitely a good movie.

I was a little concerned about having Adrian with us. He’s been to movies before and done just fine, but you never know, especially when it is being shown right when he’s usually sound asleep. When the ads started he fussed a little because it was so very loud. He quickly adjusted and started nursing (my secret weapon for babies at movies). By the end of the fourth trailer he was done nursing. He fussed some more because I tried to get him to nurse longer, but he was having none of that. He also wanted to see the screen. So I gave him his pacifier and turned him around. Then something magical happened. The WB symbol appeared on the screen and Adrian fell asleep. He slept through the entire movie in spite of almost being woken up twice by me laughing and once by me jumping. He woke up when we left the theater, fell back to sleep on the ride home, and slept until about 9 this morning. (Interestingly, the fifth movie came out on Fritz’s first birthday and he, too, slept through the whole thing.)


The movie was incredible. The kids’ acting has improved so much over the last few years and you can just tell that they are comfortable with each other and really friends. The first 2/3 of the movie was quite funny and had us laughing a lot. It turns serious when Harry and Dumbledore get to the cave. If you’ve read the book, you know about the inferi. That was probably the scariest part of the movie. Everyone in the theater jumped and some people screamed. If you’ve read the book, you also know what happens to Dumbledore. That part was very sad. I really liked the pace of this movie. Order of the Phoenix always leaves me a bit breathless. The action is so non-stop that I feel like I can’t breathe. The pace of Half-Blood Prince was much better.

I was somewhat surprised that the big kids, or at least Cameron, stayed awake for the whole movie. Ani is not so much of a surprise because she has been known to stay up until dawn at sleepovers. She’s the one the other girls tell to just go to sleep. Total night owl. Cameron, on the other hand, is a morning lark and goes to sleep quickly, easily, and anywhere he happens to be when he gets tired. He stayed wide awake through the whole movie, though. He loved it. The kids both went right to sleep when we got home, though, and Cameron didn’t get up until 10:30 and Ani until 11:30 this morning.


We got home about 3 am. It’s funny, but we were leaving the theater having already watched the movie before it even opened on the west coast. Thinking about time zones always is interesting to me. Seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at midnight was truly quite an experience. Many in the audience cheered and clapped when it was over. Beforehand strangers were talking to each other about the books and movies. I heard several young men unashamedly talk about how they cried when they read Dumbledore’s death scene. Everyone was unified by the common thread of being not just Harry Potter fans, but Harry Potter fans crazy enough to go to the first possible showing in the middle of the night. I’m glad I let my husband and big kids talk me into going at 12:01 am. It was really fun!

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