Fans are queuing up at movie theaters around the world to welcome the latest screen adaptation of a novel by English author J.K. Rowling: a new adventure featuring, perhaps, the most famous wizard since Merlin. With opening day ticket sales, July 15, of $58.4 million in the U.S. and Canada, it is poised to set new box office records. Here's look at Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
The mysteries unfold in ever-darkening shadows in this sixth Harry Potter film as Harry and friends head back for another session under the guidance of headmaster Dumbledore at Hogwarts School of Magic.
In this installment it is not all wands, spells and potions for the now-teenaged Harry, Ron and Hermione. Despite their magical wizard powers, none can resist young love.
Rupert Grint is, once again, Harry's best friend Ron Weasley.
"This is Ron's best year at Hogwart's, I think," Grint says. "He gets a girlfriend, joins the quidditch team for the first time and …yeah, it was nice to have something to get stuck into. I really enjoyed it."
It may be a good year for Ron, from the broomstick-riding, high-flying game of quidditch to hugs and stolen kisses from his new girlfriend; but Emma Watson says her character, Hermione Granger, has to deal with unrequited love from that very same red-headed wizard-in-training.
"I think in the films we've seen quite a strong Hermione: a kind of 'girl-power' Hermione," Watson explains. "She's the brains behind the operation, kind of dragging the guys around with her; but in this one I think you see a very different Hermione. She is much more fragile and vulnerable and emotional. She's experiencing her first heartache, really. I think she's very confused about how she feels about Ron and how upset she is when he kisses someone else. So it was a challenge for me to play this much more emotional, vulnerable person."
If the prophecies are to be believed, Harry Potter is the 'chosen one' who will keep this wonderful world of magic from falling to the dark forces of Lord Voldemort. Daniel Radcliffe says this time he had to find the character's new inner strength.
"The big change for Harry this year is his relationship with Dumbledore," explains Radcliffe. "He has always been very much teacher and student and this year it kind of changes to being a general with his favorite lieutenant. Harry becomes a foot soldier in this movie and happy to be so."
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is definitely for fans who grew up avidly devouring the books and cheering the previous five films. Director David Yates says it does expect audiences to be thoroughly familiar with 'all things Harry.'
"We have conversations about that all the time: about how much exposition do we have, ultimately. I think very early on we talked about the notion of putting this story in the moment and allowing the audience to just 'parachute in' and go with it," Yates says. "They are really tricky books to adapt because there is so much plot and so much detail that it's actually really hard making those decisions about what is left in and what is left out. Ultimately I think we've got to that phase in these movies where we all feel it's a good thing to get the audience to 'buckle in' and go and not necessarily weigh them down with too much information about what's gone before. They can always go back to the DVDs and back to the books. We are kind of trading upon what has gone before and we hope they forgive some of the leaps that we make."
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince features Michael Gambon one more time as headmaster Dumbledore. Jim Broadbent joins the Hogwart's faculty along with series veterans Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith and Robbie Coltrane. The screenplay is by Steve Kloves, who has adapted the last book of the series - "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" - into a two-part finale (that is, a pair of movies), currently in production under the direction, again, of David Yates.