I was among the muggles last night at a midnight screening of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." Read my review by clicking here.
What struck me as notable about the screening was not the lovable Potter geeks. They're still a few who dress up in robes and Potter spectacles -- you know who you are -- but most moviegoers are pretty casual about the whole experience. They show up an hour early, pick their seats, text their friends and, well, wait.
What is worth noting is the sincere connection between the moviegoers and the movie, which is all the stronger at a first screening.
Harry Potter, like Indiana Jones, has a way of commanding our attention because, quite simply, we like him. We really like him.
During my screening, cellphones didn't ring. Moviegoers watched and didn't distract others with dumb banter. If they said something it was "Finally!" when Harry got his first kiss or "Harry Pottah!" in a fake British accent as WB logo faded onto the screen. Funny commentary. Not pointless chatter.
With the risk of sounding like a shill, an opening night of a "Harry Potter" flick is a bit magical. People treat those first glimpses into Harry's newest movie-world as a gift from Gandalf.
Cinephiles need to have the collective experiences of cinematic worship every once in a while. We need reasons to love the loving of movies. And love him or not, we need Harry.