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Deathly Hallows Just Hours Away

Harry Potter movie flies in on heels of Quidditch World Cup

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Watch this video on YouTube

In the video above, see scenes from the 2008 Intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup and hear members of BU’s team describe the sport.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. And sometimes it’s based on it. That’s the case this week, as a fantastical movie that includes a game in which people fly around on sticks while whacking a ball opens five days after students from 46 colleges gathered in New York City to compete in a game in which people run around with sticks between their legs while whacking a ball.

The 4th Annual Quidditch World Cup, which was won by Middlebury College, where the game initiated, followed by Tufts, was played last weekend in the Big Apple, the first time outside of Vermont. (BU was knocked out in the competition’s second round.) And at midnight tonight Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, the first of two films made from what is claimed to be the final book in the J. K. Rowling series, opens in theaters and on college campuses around the country. The second film based on the book is scheduled for release in July.

The author of the Harry Potter books and the studio that produced the movies didn’t set out to cultivate the growth of a new team sport, but they did hope to make a lot of money, and they succeeded. Rowling’s books and the subsequent film rights have netted her more than a billion dollars. The film version of The Sorcerer’s Stone, which debuted in 2001, made $974 million that year alone for Warner Brothers. The Chamber of Secrets made $878 million for the studio and the The Goblet of Fire took in at least $895 million. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I, may well break the record, as new and younger fans join veteran fanatics.

Few people who line up for the midnight showings are going to the movie to learn what happens next. That’s common knowledge among the Harry Potter crowd. For the uninitiated: Lord Voldemort’s army of Death Eaters attempt to destroy the Order of the Phoenix and rid the world of Muggles. To do that, of course they must seize the Ministry of Magic.

Still, those who don’t know the story can scan the first half of the 759-page book, or track down one of the “secret” showings tonight on college campuses across the country. They can also search online for one of the pirated excerpts that predictably appeared in the last couple of days.

Quidditch, officially known as muggle quidditch, originated in 2005 when a Middlebury student adapted the game for the nonmagical world. Despite the drawback of not being able to fly, those who tried it liked it, and today more than 150 colleges have quidditch teams.

As in the fictional game, each muggle quidditch team has seven players: three chasers, two beaters, a keeper, and a seeker. Chasers score points by throwing a quaffle, or volleyball, through one of three hoops (worth 10 points) while trying to avoid bludgers, or dodgeballs, that are thrown by beaters. (If chasers are hit by a bludger, they must drop the quaffle.) The keeper’s job is to protect the three goalposts, while the seeker must capture the snitch—a sock stuffed with tennis balls carried by a person (typically a cross-country runner) dressed in gold. Capturing the snitch nets an additional 30 points and ends the game.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I opens tonight at midnight. Check your local movie listings for show times and locations. Watch a preview of the new film here.

Alan Wong can be reached at alanwong@bu.edu. Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

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