'Potter' finale casts a spell on local businesses
by Matt Shinall
Jul 19, 2011 | 2146 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Breaking box office records at home and abroad, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2" made its mark locally at the theater and with at least one other Bartow business.

The series finale brought with it throngs of moviegoers, descending upon theaters bringing in $169.2 million domestically in its opening weekend taking the crown from "The Dark Knight." The Batman sequel did however sell more tickets but at a lower cost in 2008.

Author J.K. Rowling chronicled the fictional life of a young wizard in the Harry Potter book series which inspired the movies, the eighth of which racked up an overseas box office of $307 million, approaching half a billion dollars in total ticket sales shortly after its July 8 release.

Cartersville's Carmike Cinemas, saw a crowd gather for its midnight release of the film which took hold of all 12 screens for the local premiere. Cliff Burger, complex manager at the Cartersville theater said fans began showing up around 8 p.m. for the midnight show.

"It was a big turnout. In my opinion, this one was probably the largest in the series," Burger said, adding that it also drew the longest line.

Turnout remained steady through the weekend with the film showing on a third of the screens, said Burger.

For one Cartersville business, all attention was on an out-of-town premiere. Bruce Thompson, of The Thompson Group Allstate agency, made extra efforts in customer service by renting out part of Cherokee 16 Cinema in Woodstock.

Thompson bought the Towne Lake-based insurance agency in December 2010. In an attempt to award customer loyalty through the switch and to meet face-to-face with policy-holders, Thompson not only treated 245 of his Cobb County customers to a movie and concessions, he also managed to provide them with an exclusive preview showing of the final installment. With a 7 p.m. airtime, Thompson Group customers got to see the long-awaited film five hours before general admission.

"It was just a way for us to say thank you," Thompson said. "On this night we did a lot of shaking hands, hugging necks and putting names to faces and that's really what customer service is, is making a personal connection. Sometimes, that's difficult in an electronic world."

The special showing brought an audience from 5 years old to 80, said Thompson, adding that the atmosphere was "full of energy." Following the reaction from this showing, Thompson said he hopes to host a similar event in Cartersville for a different movie.

Thompson pointed out that in today's technologically advanced world, consumers have more options and many are turning to the Internet, emphasizing the need for innovative customer service. He noted that most of his sales come from referral and therefore personal relationships play a major role in his business model.

* Information from The Associated Press was used in this article.