Fans go strictly by the book

Readers: These `Harry Potter' devotees don't want the film to spoil the book's charm.

Wizard Watch

November 23, 2001|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Tony and Mary Lewis did not fall under the same spell that has wand-waving children in horn-rimmed glasses and wizard hats packing movie theaters across America these days. Through some greater magic, these young siblings have resisted overwhelming media momentum to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. They have refused to get caught up in the jetstream of the new millennium's favorite flyboy. They're skipping out on what they see as an unacceptable variation on the books they love.

They are a rare breed, these two Laurel kids- fans of Harry Potter who refuse to see the movie.

Twelve year-old Tony doesn't think a movie could ever match the way author J.K. Rowling describes Hogwarts, not to mention his own rendering of the world she created.

"I have my own visuals of what Hogwarts looks like, what the people look like," says the Murray Hill seventh-grader.

"We're avid readers, all of us," explains mom Donna Lewis, who works at the Savage Branch of the Howard County library system. "They get so much imagery from their imaginations that I think they're disappointed in a movie because it doesn't quite live up to what they expect."

Tony has read all four books in the series. He doesn't want to be disappointed, as he was with the animated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.

"I rented that from the library. I have the book, and I read it and the movie skipped over some major details," Tony says. He kept hoping things would be different with the Harry Potter movie, but he says after reading articles in Gaming magazine and seeing snippets of the film, he's convinced it's not.

His 10-year-old sister, Mary, had a similar reaction when one of her favorite books, The Princess Diaries, came out this year. Lewis says her daughter enjoyed the movie but reading the book afterward revealed an entirely different plot premise. It was better in a way, she says, that they saw the movie first, but the disappointment in the disconnect made an impact.

So, while the bum-rush toward the cinemas propelled Harry Potter into a record-breaking, $93.5 million, three-day run, the Lewises did the things they usually do on the weekends.

They went to the grocery store, to church, to a cousin's house. They did laundry and yardwork.

Tony's activities were status quo for boys his age: testing out new video games like "Metal Gear Solid 2" on his PS2, sketching his favorite anime character, Dragonball Z, and reading his latest Jedi Apprentice Star Wars book. (He doesn't mind it when the book comes out after the movie.)

Mary, a Laurel Woods fifth-grader, read the second book in the Princess Diaries series, designed outfits for her Barbies and helped her brother clean out their hamster's cage.

And don't think these kids don't want to see the Harry Potter film because they don't like movies. Tony can't get enough of the Star Wars series, movies about knights and other action/adventure boy pics. Mary likes happy ending, chick-flicks like Ever After, Stepmom and Funny Girl.

But they didn't watch any videos this weekend. There was enough standard Muggle stuff (non-magical to the extreme) to keep them busy. Their world was not affected by Harry hoopla.

Even during premiere week, Donna Lewis heard not one peep of Potter from her kids. "They're like, `Whatever,' " says Lewis, 32.

Of her oldest, she says, "He's very stubborn, but he's great. Once he's made up his mind, that's it." Tony mentions that this movie doesn't hold much interest for his best friend either, but that friend hasn't read the books. "For Tony, it's a different ballgame," says mom.

"I keep my opinion and stand by it," says Tony.

Lewis beams with pride on the stand her kids are taking. "They're pretty independent, free thinkers. We allow them to make choices for themselves after we have a discussion," she says.

That kind of dialogue is the only bend to her kids' otherwise rigid position. Never say never, or as Tony says, "Maybe when it comes out on tape, we'll look into it."

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