Potter fans descend on London for world premiere
Harry Potter fans from around the world were on Thursday camped out in London's Trafalgar Square before the world premiere of the final film in the epic supernatural saga.
Spellbound enthusiasts from the United States, Sweden and Mexico bedded down with British bookworms prior to the first showing of the action-packed finale, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2".
Some had camped out for six days, desperate to catch a glimpse of the stars as they walk the red carpet before watching the boy wizard take on evil Lord Voldemort in the second of two films based on the seventh and final Potter book.
Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Potter, is taking time off from appearing in a Broadway musical to attend the premiere, along with Hermione Granger actress Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley.
The three stars have accumulated huge fortunes on the back of the long-running series, but must now discard the capes and wands as they plot careers outside the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Grint told reporters that emotions ran high during the final day of filming.
"We all cried. Everyone," he recalled. "It was realising that this 10 years have come down to this one shot and we'd never be coming back."
The film will be released in British and US cinemas on July 15 and is the first Potter movie to hit the screens in a 3D version as well as the regular release.
The first Harry Potter film was released in 2001 and the seven films so far have earned 6.4 billion dollars (4.4 billion euros) globally.
"Part 2" covers the final third of the book and will be a fast-paced adventure, in contrast to "Part 1" which served as a scene-setter for the explosive final battle between Potter and his allies and Voldemort's dark forces.
The movie is directed by David Yates, who has shot three of the previous seven films, including Part 1, which was made at the same time.
More than 400 million copies of the Potter books have been sold since struggling single-mother J. K. Rowling published the first installment, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" in 1997.
The young sorcerer's exploits soon became a global phenomenon with the books now available in 69 languages and the films mesmerising audiences worldwide.
"It's been beyond my wildest dreams," said producer David Heyman.
The main Potter actors have all earned a fortune -- Radcliffe £42 million ($67.5 million, 46.5 million euros), Watson £22 million and Grint £20 million, according to The Sunday Times newspaper's rich list.
Radcliffe, 21, wrong-footed critics by taking an all singing, all dancing role in the 1950s musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" in New York.
As the curtain comes down on the series, Radcliffe said he hoped it was not the end for him and his co-stars.
"Myself, Rupert and Emma have spent 10 years with each other... I do think the bond is pretty unbreakable," he said in New York on Wednesday. "Hopefully, we'll work together again."
Watson, also 21, has a parallel modelling career and has recently completed filming two US pictures: "My Week with Marilyn", to be released in November, and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", due out next year.
Although the main stars are keen to forge new identities, the elfin actress explained that she owed a large debt to her alter-ego.
"Hermione has been like my sister and I'll actually miss being her," she said. "Hermione is such an incredible young woman. She made me a better person."
Grint, 22, is pursuing an acting career, despite his non-Potter films flopping. He will appear next year in a low-budget Norwegian World War II film.
Author Rowling laid down her pen -- and Harry's magic wand -- when she completed the seventh book in 2007, but has yet to fully let go of the creation which The Sunday Times estimates has netted her £530 million.
Last month she unveiled an interactive website featuring new material about Potter's world, and announced that his adventures would be sold as e-books for the first time.
© 2011 AFP