Pricey 'Potter' Exhibit Shines

By Robert Marich
   April 11, 2013-Here are my personal impressions of an exhibition of Harry Potter props and costumes in New York City, which was engaging but pricey at $27 for an adult admission. The exhibit was at the Times Square-area Discovery hall.
   Says a press release, “The 14,000-square-foot experiential exhibition – created by Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES) in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products – showcases the amazing craftsmanship behind authentic costumes and props from the films, offering fans a firsthand view of hundreds of artifacts displayed in settings inspired by the film sets – including the Great Hall, Hagrid's hut, the Gryffindor™ common room, and more.”
   GES is a unit of NYSE-traded Viad Corp. that put on exhibitions. In this case, the eight Warner Bros. Harry Potter movies were in the spotlight.
   As for my own impressions, the costumes were presented in faux medieval décor—elaborate, antique looking and slightly gloomy--that dovetails with the world of Harry Potter. Still photos of actors connected with the costumes on display and video monitors playing snippets from the movies dotted the exhibition. Presumably, actors negotiated some extra compensation for use of their images, since such displays would not be covered by contracts for acting services. The exhibit does not appear to be the normal movie publicity.
   In what was a typical presentation, a sign at one display said: “Robes worn by Professor Gilderoy Lockhart (KENNETH BRANAGH) while teaching his first Defense Against the Dark Arts class in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” One of the more elaborate areas recreated the inside of the cottage of the beefy Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). A small version of the movie's iconic school dining hall—replete with stain glass windows—was one of the last displays.
    There were a few touches of dry humor. In a satire of sports, one banner on display carried the text “422nd Quidditch World Cup,” which references the blend of rugby and dodge ball that is seen in Harry Potter movies with contestants riding flying poles. Another bit of humor were wanted posters of movie characters, which mimic wanted posters of criminals from law enforcement.
   The exhibit ends—where else?—in gift shop, where baseball hats and adult tee-shirts were a pricey $30, and coffee mugs $12.
   I'd call the whole exhibit an example of licensed merchandise that is a "service"--unlike normal merchandise hard goods. Other services include movie-themed vacation packages--again not physical goods.
   In a separate promotion, an international Quidditch competition in Florida is being held with teams from colleges, which keeps Harry Potter mania alive despite no new movies.
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