The magic returned to Kingston Odeon last weekend as it showed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to mark the 20th anniversary of its release.
Despite a number of big-name films showing at the same time, including the new James Bond film No Time to Die, Dune and Last Night in Soho, The Philosopher’s Stone remained one of the most popular films of the weekend.
In fact, last Friday evening, the 7.10pm screening was around 80 per cent full.
Jamie Holbrook, customer experience manager at Kingston Odeon, recognised that Covid-19 had been “terrifying” for some, and felt that a Harry Potter re-release was the perfect film to get people back into cinemas.
He said: “In terms of the older films that we have been showing, it has been a bit of an invitation back to cinema. Our new slogan is literally ‘make the magic happen’ and what better way to celebrate that than with Harry Potter.”
That magic was very real for Hannah Alvarnaz, 20, who saw the film on Friday night.
She said: “I loved it. It’s always great…it’s like re-living my childhood every time I watch it.”
It was clear the audience agreed. Every joke was laughed at as if it was the first time it had been told. When Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) sacrificed himself towards the end of the film, the entire theatre gasped.
And as Harry himself (Daniel Radcliffe) stepped onto the Hogwarts Express and waved goodbye to Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) for the final time in the movie, a section of the crowd burst into applause. It was as if the experience was brand new once again.
In fact, for some it was. Despite the film being two decades old, and the book series even older, the franchise has continued to gain new fans.
Victoria Manmiller, 19, saw the film for the first time on Friday night. She said: “I was dragged into this whole thing but now I’m very glad I watched the movie. It was amazing.”
The popularity of the Harry Potter re-release represents a wider trend at the Kingston Odeon since the end of Covid-19 restrictions. In particular, the release of No Time to Die saw the cinema perform better than ever.
Holbrook said: “Bond was a record-breaker for us. We had 2,500 people through in two hours.
“I was working here myself for seven hours straight…everything was full and packed out.”
Despite record numbers of people visiting its cinema, Kingston Odeon has continued to take the pandemic seriously.
There are sanitising stations throughout the complex, as well as contactless ticket machines. Mask-wearing and social distancing is encouraged, though not enforced. Holbrook said he believed that people had been less fearful of Covid-19 than after previous lockdowns.
More showings of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone will be shown at Kingston Odeon throughout the upcoming week.