There was no question that Rossalyn Norris and Teresa Henderson were going to be first in line to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.”
“We started planning it right after last year’s (‘Harry Potter’) movie,” said Norris, 24, of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “We got here at 4 a.m.”
The friends — with folding chairs, pillows, books and leftover cold pizza in tow — held the top spot in line on Thursday at Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, waiting for the midnight premiere of the movie, the seventh in a series of films based on J.K. Rowling’s books about a young wizard.
About 100 mostly 20-something fans waited with them around 2 p.m. Thursday, listening to music, watching “Potter” movies on laptop computers, re-reading “Potter” books and joining a barrage of prize giveaways, trivia matches and costume contests organized by the theater to keep fans entertained during the marathon wait.
But the experience was bittersweet for some. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” is the penultimate installment of the movie franchise, a fact that made some fans’ excitement a little more subdued.
“It’s really almost over, and it sucks. You just don’t want it to end,” said John Wiedmann, 18, of Tempe, who grew up reading the books thanks to his grandmother.
“I’m more sad than anything,” said Henderson, 26, of Scottsdale. “I’m excited to see it, but I also know it’s ending. Ten years of my life is coming to an end.”
“I told her we’re going to need a support group,” said Norris.
Still others were eager to see how filmmakers will split material from Rowling’s final book between this movie and next summer’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”
“I’m hoping the reason they’re splitting (the book) into two parts is because they’re going to put so much detail into the movies,” said 21-year-old Nichole Young of Scottsdale, who, like a lot of fans in line at Tempe Marketplace, sported an eyeliner lightning bolt on her forehead, drawn on courtesy of makeup artists from the neighboring J.C. Penney store, to mimic Potter’s trademark scar.
Young requested two days off work for the event months ago.
“I told everybody about it, I was so excited. You don’t feel like as big of a nerd here because everyone else is into it, too,” she said.
The movie was set to play on all of the Tempe Harkins’ 16 movie screens, including the deluxe Cine Capri. At the Cinemark Theatre at Mesa Riverview, staff were prepared to open a seventh screen if demand called for it, and the movie was scheduled to show on four screens at the Gateway 12 IMAX Theatre on Signal Butte Road in Mesa.
“Our IMAX screen sold out right after we opened presales, about two weeks ago, and we sold out the other theaters about two days ago,” said box office employee Molly Davis, who noted that a handful of fans showed up to wait in the lobby when the theater opened on Thursday morning.
At Harkins, many fans — like Buster Heine and Ben Whipple, there since 5 a.m. Thursday with a shabby, duct-taped TV and a guitar — were holding spots in line for friends and family who couldn’t arrive until later in the day. The Mesa college students were keeping place for a group of about 30.
“Some people have jobs, and some of us are just living the dream,” joked Whipple.
Harkins spokesman Bryan Laurel said he expected the line to reach about 1,000 people between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday and to swell to around 3,000 by 8 p.m.
Cami LaPierre, 22, of Mesa, who was playing “Monopoly” at a card table with friends Jason and April Benavides, says she’ll miss the books and movies.
“It’s been nice to have something you grew up with, to have a time once a year when you can kind of be a kid again and remember stuff from elementary or middle school, when you first started reading the books,” she said. “I don’t know what we’ll do when it’s all over.”