Harry Potter film saga nears end with London premiere
The stars of Harry Potter hit the red carpet in London Thursday for the world premiere of the first of two films resolving the boy wizard's adventures, after a decade in the roles that made their fortunes.
Worldwide fans of the phenomenally successful series have been eagerly awaiting the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One", the first of two movies based on the seventh and final book by J.K. Rowling.
Daniel Radcliffe, 21, Emma Watson, 20, and Rupert Grint, 22, who play Harry and his best friends Hermione and Ron in all eight films, will attend the premiere at London's Leicester Square on Thursday evening.
It is likely to be an emotional event for the young British actors, who must now face the world without the on-screen characters who dominated their childhoods and turned them into multi-millionaires.
"It's the end of an era," Radcliffe said, adding that when filming wrapped up on both parts of "Deathly Hallows" earlier this year, "everyone was sad -- we all cried. It was the end of something amazing."
However, he admitted to reporters that he was keen to get on with the rest of his life and his career, adding: "Ten years is enough with one character."
The first Harry Potter film was released in 2001, four years after Rowling published her first book, and since then the six movies have earned 5.4 billion dollars (3.9 billion euros) globally at the box office.
Each installment follows Harry and his friends as they progress through Hogwarts school of wizardry and battle the rising forces of the evil Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents and seems intent on destroying him too.
In "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One", Voldemort and his evil henchmen control huge swathes of the wizarding world, creating a dark and forbidding environment where Harry is constantly in danger.
The trio leave behind the safety of school and their families and set out alone to seek out horcruxes, items in which Voldemort has hidden pieces of his soul, so they can destroy them and ultimately bring him down.
Much of the film involves a road trip, as the three travel around Britain to try to stay safe, and it focuses on the close friendship between the main characters, in particular the budding romance between Hermione and Ron.
It ends on a cliffhanger, however, as the final resolution will not be known until Part Two, which is due out in July. That will cover a final, explosive battle between Potter and his allies and Voldemort's dark forces.
The two films retain the all-star cast of the previous movies, including Oscar-nominated British actor Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, who will also attend Thursday's premiere.
Part One is released in most parts of the world on November 19.
The Harry Potter books have sold more than 400 million copies and have been translated into 69 languages.
© 2010 AFP