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'Harry Potter' Mania Builds Ahead of Final Film's Premiere

Daniel Radcliff in
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Fans began lining up more than 24 hours in advance for a chance to see stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

LONDON – Magicians, fan boys and muggles of all ages and sizes begun gathering in London’s Trafalgar Square and the surrounding streets Wednesday -- more than 24 hours before the world premiere of the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

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Some 8,000 wristbands have been handed out Wednesday morning to fans allowing them access to the sidelines for the premiere event Thursday evening.

BBC London reports showed scenes of more than 3,000 Harry Potter enthusiasts setting themselves up with sleeping bags and makeshift cardboard mattresses to be in with a shot of glimpsing the film’s stars and author J.K. Rowling.

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Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Potter, is taking time off from appearing in a Broadway musical to attend, along with Hermione Granger actress Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley.

The three are a big draw for the red carpet watchers and the global media is expected to take its places Thursday afternoon along the red carpet route that winds from London’s Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square’s three biggest movie venues where the final outing will be shown in 3D to invitees.

Nineteen-year-old sisters Emily and Nic Holson have come all the way from Vancouver.

“It’s great to be with all the really geeky people,” the pair told the BBC. “This is the only place in the world where that could happen and it not be weird."

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The weather forecast of wet and windy weather and the lack of washroom facilities seems to have done little to dent the enthusiasm of fans prepared to wait overnight alongside the route to the screenings.

And police have banned tents from the historic central London square so it will only be the hardiest who make it through what looks likely to be an uncomfortable night.

The premiere, marking the last installment in one of the most successful franchises in history with the previous seven films taking more than £3.6 billion ($6.4 billion) at the global box office according to Rentrak EDI, is being billed as the biggest world debut event held in the U.K.

Warner Bros. Pictures sparked a web frenzy in March this year when it announced plans to mount the event in London and set the date.

The claim is it is the first red carpet film premiere event to start in Trafalgar Square, a part of the British capital instantly recognizable to global audiences.

It is being held there because Leicester Square is undergoing a multi-million facelift and is closed for that reason.

The final movie rolls out in the U.K. and the U.S. on July 15 and is the first Potter outing to be aired in a 3D version and also in 2D.

The penultimate Potter adventure, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 1 was released in November 2010 and was described by critics and fans as a slow-paced scene-setter.

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Directed by David Yates, who has shot three of the previous seven films, including Deathly Hallows Part 1, which was made at the same time, the film promises explosive action and the final battle between Potter and nemesis Lord Voldemort.

The producers are David Heyman, the producer of all of the Harry Potter films, David Barron who has produced six of the films and creator Rowling

Steve Kloves adapted the screenplay.  Lionel Wigram is the executive producer, with John Trehy and Tim Lewis as co-producers.

Dave Hogan/Getty Images