Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Harry Potter Offers Magical Boost to UK Tourism

Fans remain captivated by Edinburgh, whose sights and scenes were the inspiration for fantastical characters and locations. Oli SCARFF / AFP
Fans remain captivated by Edinburgh, whose sights and scenes were the inspiration for fantastical characters and locations. Oli SCARFF / AFP
TT

Harry Potter Offers Magical Boost to UK Tourism

Fans remain captivated by Edinburgh, whose sights and scenes were the inspiration for fantastical characters and locations. Oli SCARFF / AFP
Fans remain captivated by Edinburgh, whose sights and scenes were the inspiration for fantastical characters and locations. Oli SCARFF / AFP

Sam Thorne guides Harry Potter fans through the gothic streets of Edinburgh, where controversial author JK Rowling dreamt up the boy wizard more than three decades ago.
The Scottish capital attracts lovers of the bespectacled schoolboy from across the world, boosting the UK economy and helping generate billions of pounds in global sales of Potter-related offerings, AFP said.
"Here you will encounter the tomb of Voldemort," Thorne tells his tour group, in reference to the villainous dark lord of magic who murdered Potter's parents when he was a baby.
The tour, numbering some 20 fans, snakes through Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery where some gravestones bear names similar to several characters, although Rowling -- much criticized for her views on transgender rights -- has not admitted any link.
American Kate Merson, 43, works in Edinburgh and is on the walk with her husband and two children, seeking to satisfy her nine-year-old's obsession with Potter -- and her desire to explore the magical world of Hogwarts.
'Busier and crazier'
Rowling wrote seven Potter books which were published between 1997 and 2007, spawning eight blockbuster movies in a multi-billion-dollar global phenomenon.
Fans remain captivated by Edinburgh, whose sights and scenes were the inspiration for fantastical characters and locations.
"It's only gotten busier and busier and crazier and crazier. There's more people coming in -- who are all asking for tours as well," Thorne, 33, told AFP.
His "Potter Trail" lasts one-and-a-half hours and takes several dozen tourists across the city's pretty streets. His recommended tour donation is £20 ($26) per person.
Thorne's popular guided walk ends on the colorful Instagram-friendly Victoria Street... in front of two heaving Potter merchandise shops thronged by muggles, or non-wizards.
Briya Maru, a 27-year-old Indian who lives in Toronto, queues in the driving rain in front of one of the shops, waiting to splurge cash on Potter souvenirs.
"It was symbolic for me to get them from here, the Harry Potter city," Maru told AFP, adding she was searching for "exclusive" artefacts.
Manager Monica Alsina says business is brisk at her 'Enchanted Galaxy' shop, where punters can buy a "magic wand" for £40 and the most expensive item -- a limited-edition character sculpture -- costs £650.
'Tourism engine'
"The shop has been doing great. Harry Potter is just getting more and more popular," said Alsina.
There have been no new books or films -- but the "Potterverse" has in recent years expanded to include a hit video game, a play in London's West End and the "Fantastic Beasts" film franchise, while a television series is also in the works.
"Harry Potter is a fantastic engine for tourism in Scotland," said Jenni Steele, spokeswoman for tourism agency VisitScotland.
Fans of the extremely popular franchise also flock to filming destinations in England, including London and surrounding areas, the Cotswolds and York.
Devotees also tend to visit "The Making of Harry Potter" film-studio park, which has attracted 19 million visitors since it opened in 2012.
Tickets for the attraction close to London cost a minimum of £53 each and total revenues have already passed one billion dollars.
But in recent years, Pottermania has been overshadowed by Rowling's views, including her belief that biological sex is immutable. She denies being transphobic.
In Edinburgh, her views have been difficult for some.
"It's been a tough time to be a Harry Potter fan as a result of her comments, chiefly because one of the reasons why the wizarding world meant so much to so many people is because Harry was seen as being an outsider," Thorne told AFP.
"For people who really felt that, Harry Potter was a form of escapism for them, a place where they could feel accepted -- it does feel like a betrayal."
Yet the best-selling franchise continues to generate huge sales.
"Adults who grew up with it now show it to their children. It's a fandom that only gets bigger," said Alsina.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ Celebrates Friendship, Ryan Reynolds Says

Canadian-US actor Ryan Reynolds (L) and Australian actor Hugh Jackman pose on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the UK sneak peek event for "Deadpool & Wolverine", at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, west London on July 11, 2024. (AFP)
Canadian-US actor Ryan Reynolds (L) and Australian actor Hugh Jackman pose on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the UK sneak peek event for "Deadpool & Wolverine", at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, west London on July 11, 2024. (AFP)
TT

‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ Celebrates Friendship, Ryan Reynolds Says

Canadian-US actor Ryan Reynolds (L) and Australian actor Hugh Jackman pose on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the UK sneak peek event for "Deadpool & Wolverine", at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, west London on July 11, 2024. (AFP)
Canadian-US actor Ryan Reynolds (L) and Australian actor Hugh Jackman pose on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the UK sneak peek event for "Deadpool & Wolverine", at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, west London on July 11, 2024. (AFP)

The global promotional tour for "Deadpool & Wolverine" touched down in London on Thursday, with stars Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman bringing their bromance to the movie's UK sneak peek event.

The two have entertained fans with their humorous, high-energy appearances at previous stops in Shanghai, Seoul and Berlin.

The third installment in the "Deadpool" movie franchise sees Jackman's Wolverine return from retirement to help wise-cracking Deadpool (Reynolds) save his world.

"It's about friendship," said Reynolds, who also co-wrote and produced the film.

"There's so many moments in the movie where it's hard to tell if Deadpool's talking to Wolverine, Wolverine talking to Deadpool, or it's Hugh and Ryan talking to each other. And I'm really proud of those moments."

Jackman had not planned to reprise the role of the gruff, clawed X-Man Wolverine. But the Australian actor said his mind started changing after he watched the first "Deadpool" film.

"It was something in here," he said, pointing at his heart. "I really thought I was done. And then, five or six years later, I was driving and I just knew in my bones I wanted to do that."

"I knew for fans it would be the thing they'd waited for, I knew it'd be a kind of dynamic that we've never seen before. I had no idea how hard it would be physically at age 55 to do it but it's absolutely worth it. I have loved every second."

Secrecy surrounds the film's plot details. Respecting the characters and their legacy was at the heart of the writing process, said director and co-writer Shawn Levy.

"But then we pushed them into areas that other movies haven't," he said. "I think you're going to see some aspects to both their performances that are quite different than what we've seen in their prior films."

The only Marvel-Disney movie released this year, "Deadpool & Wolverine" is expected to be a box office hit when it begins its global cinematic rollout on July 24.

"There is a lot riding on it but we've worked really hard to deliver the goods," said Levy.

"I focus on the opportunity, not the expectation. The creative opportunity to connect with a huge global audience in a new way, in a surprising and fresh way, that was delicious," he said.

For Reynolds, 47, releasing the film to the world comes with other concerns.

"I feel like I've waited my entire life to do this one movie. The only problem that poses is I don't know what the hell we're supposed to do next."