Warner Brothers Conjures Wizard Shop for Merry Potter Premiere

Rather than a somber setup for the premiere party of the latest Harry Potter film, Warner Brothers opted for a cheerful setting by recreating Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, the fanciful store from the movie.

By Anna Sekula July 14, 2009, 2:00 PM EDT

Harry Potter premiere party's shop of tricks

Photo: Joe Fornabaio

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Premiere Party
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Darker and more sinister than the previous installments, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has plenty of moody imagery. But unlike the spooky setting it created for last summer's Dark Knight event, Warner Brothers chose a more lighthearted approach to decor for the premiere party of the sixth Harry Potter film. On Thursday night, following the movie's screening at Clearview's Ziegfeld Cinema, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and 400 other guests found themselves in a candy-colored shop at the American Museum of Natural History.

Eschewing the movie's somber scenes, the studio highlighted a happier moment—whimsical practical joke store Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. To recreate the store's colorful, childish environment at the museum's Powerhouse and Arthur Ross terrace, Warner Brothers' vice president of special events Courtney Saylor, senior publicist Troy Williams, and manager of special events Amanda Lamb looked to Los Angeles-based event producer Wendy Creed.

Scores of props, boxes, bags, and toys filled shelves and covered the surfaces, all in imitation of the film's fully stocked shop. The store also served as a lounge area with white couches and ottomans, illuminated highboys, multicolored stools, and bars dishing out food and drink. In one area, Creed placed an LED dance floor and in another placed a photo booth from Polite in Public. If that wasn't enough, the party also offered a fortune teller, a sleight-of-hand magician, a make-your-own music video station, and kiosks for EA Games' Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Elsewhere, the production crew drew upon other parts of the world created by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. On the terrace, Creed built an area styled after the Three Broomsticks—an inn and pub—using dark furniture, votives strung between trees, an ornate wooden bar, and, of course, broomsticks. There was even a quidditch pitch complete with goalposts, pylons marked with the colors and emblems of Hogwarts' school houses, and a projection of clips from the film.

The movie's influence also extended to the food, with feast-like spreads and bubbling drinks—fruit punch made with dry ice—from Restaurant Associates. Waiters in black witch hats passed hors d'oeuvres such as Bombay tikka chicken burgers and mini Maine lobster rolls, while tables held larger portions of items including pan-roasted coconut mahi mahi, soba noodle salad, and pasta with spinach and squash blossoms. To round out the playful setting, Ace of Cakes' Charm City Cakes constructed an edible miniature replica of the Hogwarts Express and guests young and old made ice cream floats at a station crammed with sprinkles, M&Ms, whipped cream, and crumbled Oreos.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hits theaters tomorrow.

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