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Harry Potter casts his spell over the Fay-West

| Saturday, Nov. 16, 2002

UNIONTOWN - Opening night for "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" came a little early Friday. Actually, it was opening morning for the movie at Carmike Cinemas in Uniontown.

The first showing of the much-anticipated movie was 10:30 a.m. Friday, followed by shows at 12:15, 12:45, 2:00, 3:30. 4:00, 5:15, 6:45, 7:15, 8:30 and 10:00 p.m.

At lunchtime Friday, kids, some running ahead of their parents for the box office and some in tow, headed to the theater to see the big screen adventures of the youthful Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry student and his friends.

Yes, Friday was a school day, but with the Laurel Highlands and Jefferson Morgan School Districts dismissing early, there was no shortage of audience members for the early shows.

Jefferson Morgan student Erin Paletta even called in advance to make sure she and her friends could get tickets, worried that the shows might be sold out.

One of her friends, Valerie Higinbotham of Jefferson, said they brought two carload of kids, 11 in total, to the 12:45 show.

"We wanted to see it as soon as possible," said Higinbotham. "We love Harry Potter. We're fanatics."

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," based on the book by J. K. Rowling, follows the enormously popular "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" that was released a year ago.

Audience members waiting for the movie to start hold out high hopes for the probable blockbuster.

Jefferson Morgan student Leanna Jaiyeola said, "I think it will be better than the first one."

Paul Guthrie, manager of Carmike Cinemas, Uniontown, said the movie will show on three screens. He said, with a heads up that area school districts would dismiss early Friday, he brought in extra staff for the early shows.

As of Friday afternoon, later shows were not sold out, but a number of tickets had been sold for each of the day's showings.

Guthrie said he believes the popularity of Harry Potter movies follows from the popularity of Harry Potter books.

"Anyone who liked the book will like the movie," said Guthrie. "It's one movie that follows the book."

Guthrie said he had the opportunity to watch the movie that picks up where "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" left off, after summer vacation before the second year at Hogwarts School.

His reaction: "I liked it."

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