Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
Silver Spring, Md. 3:16AM
In the crowded Washington D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Md., one extremely caffeinated and extremely tired entertainment reporter braved the throngs of wannabe Hogwarts students, frat boys, and costumed fangirls to ask the 'Potter' faithful what they thought of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I.' But first, a brief timeline of what it's like to attend a midnight screening:
9:45PM: Buy Chick-Fil-A sandwich for sustenance and meet two 'Potter' fans, both of whom are 17 and have seen every single midnight screening. "I can't wait to see the entire scene when Ron kills the locket horcrux. That chapter ['Silver Doe'] was my favorite in all of the books," says Sara.
10:05PM: Get in queue and realize there are only a handful of us without Gryffindor T-shirts, scarves, or full-on costumes.
10:30PM: Sit in front of four sorority sisters from George Washington University, all of whom are self-described "big fans" (one is wearing a Hogwarts uniform, 'Potter' glasses, and a lightning bolt on her forehead).
"I really want to see when they find the locket horcrux in the cave," one says.
"Um, that didn't happen in this book," another interrupts.
"No?" she asks.
"That was 'Half Blood Prince,'" I offer.
"Oh. Then I can't wait until whats-their-name's [Bill and Fleur] wedding, when Kingsley's thing [Patronus] comes and says 'They are coming, they are coming.' That will be cool."
11:00PM: A group of articulate 16-year-olds agree that their priorities are the Seven Harry Potters scene and catching a glimpse of Malfoy Manor.
12:06AM: Trailers start, and the sound is way too low. Members of the audience start yelling "Volume!"
12:28PM: Black-and-white Warner Bros. logo pops up, and audience starts hooting. Sorority girl squeals: "It's happening!"
Godric's Hollow scene: Collective gasp, with several people exclaiming some variation of "Oh s--t!"
Jealous Ron spies Hermione giving Harry water: "He looks demented!"
Horcrux Harry & Hermione: "Look away!"
2:45ish: Dobby receives the biggest applause of the movie when he gives his "Dobby has no master. Dobby is a free elf!" monologue.
A few minutes later: Several people sob aloud during a climactic death, prompting one guy to fake-cry hysterically and someone else to bark: "Shut up, a--hole!"
After the credits roll and some fans stop crying, here's what a completely unscientific sample of the audience -- you're not going to see a midnight showing if you hate a movie franchise -- had to say:
--"I thought it was a great adaptation. I wasn't scanning it for accuracy, though; I just wanted to enjoy the director and writer's take on it." -- Hannah, 22
--"I think they did a better job of staying faithful to the books than the other movies, which I think has to do with them splitting it into two movies." -- Aviva, 22
--"What I'm going to remember most is poor Dobby and the shock of the snake." -- Hallie, mother of three
--"The chase scene at the beginning with all the Harrys was awesome. It was so funny when they all changed into Harry." -- Christian, 15
--"I have to see it again. I'm only sad that the Ministry of Magic scene, which was so involved in the books, wasn't as long in the movie as I expected." -- 16-year-old girl
--"I liked that it was much darker than the others. It was so good I even teared up during the Dobby scene." -- 21-year-old guy
--"My girlfriend made me come, but I actually think that it was the best one yet. I know the next one will be amazing." -- 20-year-old guy
--"From the moment Hermione erased her parents' memories at the beginning to Dobby's final words, it was everything I hoped." --Trish, 29
Lessons learned: It's hard to find people willing to say more than "It was awesome!" at 3AM.