SAVOY – Hours before midnight, the Harry Potter madness had already begun.
At the Savoy 16, theater manager Jeremy Curtis said more than 1,500 tickets were sold – and nine theaters filled – for the Tuesday night opening of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
Curtis said the turnout for the midnight premiere was the most advance sales the theater has had at one time.
The movie is the fifth of seven based on the seven-book series by British author J.K. Rowling, whose final book comes out July 21.
"I'm a very big fan, so it has to be done," said Leigh Cunningham of Champaign. "I know I'll come out of this one saying this is my favorite one."
East Central Illinois residents not only eagerly anticipated the premiere, but many made the event a costume party, dressing as their favorite characters.
Molly Cryderman of Rantoul and her friends were first in line for the show.
Cryderman arrived about 9:30 p.m. wearing a T-shirt she had made herself emblazoned with the title "Mrs. Snape." Her friend, Adriana Cuervo of Champaign, wore a similar shirt bearing the title "Mrs. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
Said their friend, Rachel Bild: "It's fun to just interact with people. ... There's a boy with a cape over there. I love that. It's fun to see and be a part of."
For many fans, part of the fun was being the first to see "Order of the Phoenix."
De'Monique Brown of Champaign said she plans to be "rubbing it in people's faces" today.
Cunningham said she wouldn't have missed the event for anything.
"It's the adrenaline," she said. "Two-and-a-half hours of glorious."