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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 09:18 GMT
Potter casts spell at world première
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
The film broke box office records before the première
One of the most-eagerly awaited movies in years, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, has received its world première in Leicester Square, London.

The cinema was turned into a replica of the magic school Hogwarts school for the occasion and thousands of excited fans, some dressed up in wizard hats and cloaks, gathered to catch a glimpse of arriving celebrities.

JK Rowling and partner arrives at the première
JK Rowling arrives with her partner Neil Murray
The film, which is due for general release on 16 November has already taken the biggest ever advance bookings for a movie release - topping the £1m mark.

JK Rowling, the author of the Potter books, said she was "happy and relieved" by how faithful the film is to her creation.

"This is not what you think about when you write a book," she said, referring to the estimated 5,000-strong crowd outside the cinema.

"It went wonderfully. I am so pleased, everyone seems to love it."


The star of the movie, Daniel Radcliffe, 12, arrived without his trademark Potter spectacles and said the première experience was "overwhelming but fantastic".

"It is so cool. I have never heard my name shouted so much in an hour."

Daniel Radcliffe arrives without his Potter spectacles
His co-stars, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, were equally exuberant.

A who's who of British stars feature in the movie, including John Hurt, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters and Zoe Wanamaker.

Actor Stephen Fry, who narrates the audio books of Harry Potter, said he was "as excited as all the children around the world".

Rave reviews

"It is very exciting to see the biggest film ever made in the UK come to fruition," he added.

Among the celebrity fans attending the première were the Duchess of York and her two daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

She said: "It is brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the girls loved it."

Sir Cliff Richard took his young nephew Philip to the screening.

Sting and daughter
Pop star Sting praised the Harry Potter books as 'good literature'
"The whole Harry Potter thing is just great fun. It really opens up child's minds and it's great for their imagination," said Sir Cliff.

Actress Patsy Kensit said she brought her son, James, and his best friend along to the show after a lot of nagging at home.

"James has been very excited about this. I'm currently on the second book with him and we are both loving it."


Pop star Sting, who was among the crowd, admitted he was a fan.

He said: "My daughter and I have been reading them for years. I think they are wonderful literature."

Potter facts
110m books sold
£85.3m film budget
£100m sponsorship from Coke
£40m expected sales in merchandising
£1m in advanced cinema ticket sales
JK Rowling promises a new book next year
The eagerly-awaited film version of JK Rowling's phenomenally popular book has cost a reported $125m (£85.3m) to make.

The film is expected to become one of the most popular children's movies of all time.

Other invited guests included Hollywood actor Ben Stiller, Australian actress Cate Blanchett, Virgin boss Richard Branson, pop band Steps, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, Richard E Grant and Donna Air.

The Harry Potter books - four in total - have become a global phenomenon, with more than 110 million copies sold worldwide since the first book was published in 1997.

The stories focus on the adventures of Harry Potter, an orphaned English schoolboy with magic powers, who is sent to a wizards' school, called Hogwarts.

The BBC's Rosie Millard
"Harry Potter could become one of cinema's most bankable creations"
BBC News Online's Jayne Douglas
"London fell under the spell of Harry Potter"
Harry Potter: Classic or craze?



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