I’m a big Harry Potter fan. I’ve got all the books. I’ve got about 150 of the trading cards. I’ve tasted Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. I’ve got tickets for the very first public preview in London (at 8:30 in the morning on November 10). Is it any wonder that I headed into London to fight my way through the crowds at the world premiere? Of course, nobody would go with me so I had to fulfill the pilgrimage on my own. I took lots of pictures, but unfortunately all of the shots of famous people were from a distance and therefore look exactly the same. Skipping those, then, here are a few that should give you a flavor of the atmosphere:

Trying to peek round the corner

This is the sight that immediately greeted me when I arrived in Leicester Square. A grandstand had been set up across from the entrance to the theater and it was soon filled with people. (Who you had to kill to get those seats, I know not.) At either corner of the grandstand was a large knight chesspiece (from the finalé of the film); you can just make it out over the head of the policeman in the distance. As you can see there was plenty of space right in front of Burger King, yet for some reason the pigs in front of us wouldn’t let us go through “for security reasons”. The people already there, they said, had been there since ten in the morning.

Cars start to arrive

Since the movie was starting at 5:30, cars starting arriving at just after 4:00. They were pulling in near Home and driving past the Equinox to stop right in front of us. The first person I recognized was Rupert Grint, who plays Ron in the film. He was followed not long after by Robbie Coltrane, who plays Hagrid. Again, note the ample space in front of me for 200 more people. Cops suck.

The Odeon as Hogwarts

Lots more celebrities showed up. I saw the Duchess of York (Fergie), Cher, Cliff Richard, Richard Branson, Richard Griffiths (who plays Vernon Dursley), Steps, and loads more. Miriam Margolyes stood right next to me as her escort tried (unsuccessfully) to get her past the police. Eventually I moved further around to get a picture of the front of the theater. It had been decorated as Hogwarts, with giant banners for each of the four schools. There were posters for the film everywhere.

Hogwarts again

Here’s another shot of the front of the theater. Check out the people in front of me with the brooms! There were lots of little kids in witch and wizard costumes too.

The big screen

By this point I was cold and tired. I made my way across the Square to a giant screen that had been set up so people could watch the interview conducted on the red carpet. Some idiotic woman from the BBC kept stopping people and asking them their opinion of “J.K.’s books”. (Snookums, watching at home, thought she didn’t know Joanna Rowling’s real first name). I was kind of cool to see the people pouring into the theater though. I saw Rowling posing with the three young stars, who all seemed to be having a great time. Rupert/Ron was cracking me up; the others had dressed up but he was just wearing a windbreaker and looking like a normal kid.

Anyway, those are the only ones worth showing you. Stay tuned for my review of the film next weekend!