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Battle of the Books

Akshay Patil

For those of you living in a hole in a ground, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone premiered last weekend, grossing $93.5 million in three days. And no, I didn’t see it.

I haven’t even read the books, and that alone makes me an outcast of society. Fans of the series talk of their first reading almost as if it were a revelation, a turning point in their life. This would probably explain why they all flocked to see their beloved storyline come to life on the silver screen. And by “fans” I am not referring to the mass of adoring six and seven year olds; I mean my hall. My hall alone probably justified the 10:30 screenings by journeying out on opening night and coming back all ready to name their first child “Harry,” regardless of gender.

Not to say that the movie has not sparked controversy. There has been great tension between the Harry Potter fans and the Lord of the Rings fans. There is already a list being composed of all the LOTR devotees in my hall who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their beloved story and are going to try and get tickets for the opening week. Most of them are of the “screw finals” philosophy when faced with the choice of Wednesday night premiere versus Thursday morning final. For these loyal warriors Christmas is coming a week early.

Fights have even broken out in front of my door. Screams of “Harry Potter sucks!” ring out at two in the morning. It’s a vicious war out there.

My roommate is a definite member of the LOTR camp. With every release of a new trailer/teaser, large groups of people accumulate in our room to eagerly drool in anticipation as they download and watch their newest peek into the world of Middle Earth. They get all giddy when the narration quotes text from the series, often reciting key passages along with the computer and each other.

Even “Foxtrot” got into the spirit; I’m sure most of you have been keeping track of the dispute between nerd king Jason and his friendly foe Eileen. Unfortunately for followers of the LOTR banner, the “inner” child of Jason has emerged victorious over his passionate geekiness. The Gandalf hat has been traded for Potter eyewear. There are going to be riots tonight.

As intense and strong the ring fellowship, it would appear that the Potter group has the advantage. Quality of either series aside, Harry Potter just appeals to a wider fan base than The Lord of the Rings. Most LOTR fans can drive themselves to the theater. Parents will not be fighting to the death in order to secure opening night tickets for their children. The numbers for LOTR will be impressive, but will not topple the monument of Potter.

I’m on the list to go see the The Fellowship of the Ring during its premiere week. A final on Thursday plus a liking but not primal lusting for the series keeps me from seeing it on opening night. Being the hip youth I am, however, I guess it’s inevitable that I’ll have read and seen Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by then. Maybe I’ll be a convert or maybe I’ll end up sparking fights in my hall, who knows. And there’s always Attack of the Clones during finals in May 2002.