No. 4: Harry Potter

After 10 years, the Harry Potter series came to its cinematic end this July.  The No. 1 film searched for on Yahoo! in 2011, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II,” earned enough money to fill a new vault or two at Gringott’s.  Overall, the film raked in $381 million at the box office, about $80 million more than Part I. Add in $32 million for a midnight opening and the highest single-day sales of $91.1 million on opening day (even adjusted for inflation), and Harry Potter now holds the title of biggest selling film franchise of all time.

The final chapter was more than just another box office success. “Deathly Hallows” brought a bittersweet and emotional conclusion to a mythic journey that shaped a generation’s childhood. For the main actors — Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint — the series was quite literally a life-altering experience.  Beginning the films at the age of 11, they grew up together like a family.  For the entire cast, it was difficult to see it all come to an end.  Ten years is a long time to film together, and the final days of shooting became emotional as each actor was celebrated on their final day on the set.

Taking the world by storm
Beginning in the late ’90s, the series of award-winning novels by J.K. Rowling took the world by storm, re-invigorating children’s love for reading worldwide. When the films were released, the fan base grew hugely, selling record numbers of books internationally. “Deathly Hallows” sold more than 9 million copies in the first 24 hours alone. The week of its release spawned a frenzy of related book buying that gave Rowling 6 of the top 20 spots in USA Today’s bestseller list. While the stories are loved universally, they certainly have a special place in the hearts of many 20-somethings who grew up with them.  But people of all ages donned costumes and lined up well before midnight for the magical movie openings, where you could spot everything from tiny house elves to wizened old wizards.

Die-hard fans do not just stop at movies and books, of course. Harry Potter has spawned theme park attractions, toys, video games, conventions, and loads of fan fiction, enabling endless reading in fan-generated alternate Potterspheres.  Wealthier fans were privileged to buy limited edition and autographed copies, with one hand-written copy of the illustrated wizarding book “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” going for nearly $4 million on the charity auction block.

Over the last decade, the Harry Potter films have made Daniel Radcliff the wealthiest actor under 30 in Britain, with Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) not far behind.  As they keep busy with school and other projects, it will be interesting to see how their careers unfold.  In late November, the film conjured up two awards at the Kid’s BAFTAs, winning the best film and the audience favorite award, and Hollywood is currently buzzing about a possible Oscar nod.

No eighth novel
As far as what the future holds, J.K. Rowling has dispelled any rumors about an eighth novel. At least that means fans will see no more of their favorite characters killed off. The author has stated that she is currently working on several new projects at once, just as she was when she began writing Harry Potter. As the projects are competing with one another, she is not sure which will make it into print first, but she assures the public that she is “writing hard.”

From now on, if you find yourself needing a Harry Potter fix, you’ll have to use your imagination and visit Pottermore online, dig into fan fiction, or make your way to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando.

So long for now, Harry Potter, and thanks for the magic!

Becky Uline is an editor and musician living in San Francisco, where she enjoys digging into Yahoo! data as a sidekick to trend-finding sleuth Vera H-C Chan. Most of her writing is of the musical variety for her band, the Northerlies.