'Harry Potter' works wonders at exhibit

Costumes, props among display at Chicago museum

CHICAGO -- Leave it to the Warner Bros. marketing team to get the last nickel out of Harry Potter, beyond the nearly $5 billion the films have grossed at the boxoffice worldwide.

The studio has been collecting millions more from the Harry Potter Exhibition, which opened April 30 and runs until Sept. 27 in a pre-fab 10,000-square-foot tent directly in front of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

The exhibit offers a firsthand look at more than 200 costumes and props.  The artifacts and costumes are displayed in settings that are "inspired" by the film sets from the numerous movies, including the Great Hall during the Yule Ball, Hagrid's Hut (which includes a Hippogriff, an oversized chair, a bubbling cauldron and a dragon's egg) and the Gryffindor common room. Among the props and costumes are Harry's original wand and glasses, props from the Quidditch matches, a study of Dobby -- the knee-high house elf -- and more.

The exhibit for Professor Lockhart (the egomaniacal buffoon played by Kenneth Branagh), who taught Defense Against the Dark Arts in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," included Lockhart's wand, a few of his books and a painting of Lockhart painting himself. Warners, which takes 100% of the admission revenue ($26 for adults, $25 for seniors and $19 for kids aged 3 to 11), built the tent and used more than 400 show lights, 32 display cases, 28 themed vignettes, 25 robes, 16 wands and 5,720 pounds of rigging, lighting, speakers, cables and special effects.

"The incredible stories written by J.K. Rowling and the films from Warner Bros. Pictures have helped us create a truly one-of-a-kind experience for fans of all ages," said Brad Globe, president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

The museum benefits from the extra traffic and charges an additional fee for entrance. Warners has placed the gift shop at the exit and allows kids and their parents to buy copies of every trinket, prop, book, robe or costume from the Potter movies. Higher-end props include a replica of the flying broom Nimbus 2001 for $299.95, a Firebolt replica broom for $399.99, a set of wands in the Tri-Wizard Championship for $200, Dumbledore's magic wand for $44.99 and the Death Eater mask collection for $129.99.

Warners declined to say how much they would likely take in from the merchandise on offer at the Museum show, but an outside source pegged the figure around $7 million.
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