Saturday, November 17, 2001

Alec Walker had no problem getting up early yesterday.
Wearing a Harry Potter cape and posing for a television camera, the 7-year-old and his brother strolled around outside the Uptown Theatre in Northwest, waiting for the 8 a.m. screening of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
The heavily hyped, breathlessly anticipated big-screen version of J.K. Rowling’s book was expected to draw a crush of fans and there were more than 400 people willing to forego a little sleep to be among the first to see it at Uptown.
“It’s never too early for popcorn or for a movie,” said Kim Crews, 39, as she headed for the balcony seats.
For a movie supposedly aimed at children, the audience had plenty of folks in the 18-to-49 demographic.
Jennifer Roberson, 27, and Dan Rinzel, 31, arrived around 6:30 a.m. to sit at the head of the line. Behind them was a mother with two teen-age daughters, who refused to be identified lest her daughters get in trouble for skipping school.
Tony Cooper, 48, bristled at the suggestion that Harry Potter was a child’s story.
“How could you ask me a question like that?” he remarked half-playfully. “Forty percent of [Harry Potter] readers are adults.”
Mr. Cooper, who recruits doctors for HMOs and attended alone, said he has read all four Harry Potter books; he also vouched for their smarts, saying he has been “sent to the dictionary many times.”
He had struck up a conversation with Liza Ackerman, a 24-year-old Capitol Hill staffer, and her friend Nicole Gerber, also 24 and a law secretary. Ms. Gerber was the avid Potter fan, while Ms. Ackerman attended on word of mouth.
“It works on so many different levels that anybody can relate to,” Ms. Gerber said of the story. “There is a richness to the characters they’re not cardboard characters.”
American University student Sadie Simpson, 22, said she “got into [the books] this past summer while studying abroad my friend got me into them and we decided to see who could see the movie first. He’s in Colorado, so I’ve got a little advantage with the time difference.”
The early-morning audience consisted of the most dedicated along with those who had waited too long in vain to buy tickets to other shows. The only weekend screenings that still had tickets available were the 8 a.m. shows today and tomorrow and tomorrow’s 10:30 p.m. show, according to a theater manager.
One man in line for the second show at 11:30 a.m. yesterday, who also refused to be named, said he had purchased the tickets 10 days in advance, and preferred the later viewing. “I got two kids they don’t want to be up at 8 o’clock.”
Others had no problem with the early hour.
Alec Walker said it wasn’t hard for his parents to bring him out because “they wanted to see it, too.”

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