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Hurrahs for 'Harry'

Sting and the Duchess of York among attendees

LONDON (CNN) -- The stars have turned out for the world premiere of the Harry Potter film, and among them is Daniel Radcliffe who shines in the lead role.

Thousands of fans cheered as the big names from showbiz joined the cast for the world-premiere screening of "Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone" at London's Leicester Square on Sunday. In the United States, the film will be titled "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and is slated for a November 16 opening.

Some of crowd, dressed in cloaks and wizards' hats, had begun queuing seven hours before the Odeon cinema doors opened.

The film, which has taken record cinema receipts in the run-up to its first showing worldwide, is expected to appeal to both adults and children.

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Many of the well-known names turning up wanted to be seen at the one of the most eagerly-awaited films ever to hit the big screen, while others just wanted to get in the good books of their children hooked on Potter mania.

Among the all-British cast members who arrived on Sunday were John Hurt, who plays wand shop owner Mr Ollivander; Robbie Coltrane, who plays giant Hogwarts groundskeeper Hagrid; and Julie Walters, who plays the part of Ron's mother Mrs Weasley.

Coltrane told reporters he was delighted to be a part of the Harry Potter phenomenon and that he'd been blown away by the reception he'd received. "They all started shouting 'Robbie, Robbie!' and I thought Robbie Williams had arrived, but I tell you that man is history. I am the new kid on the block," he joked. Coltrane is currently on screens in the United States in a very different film, the dark interpretation of the Jack the Ripper story, "From Hell," with Johnny Depp.

Other guests included Sting, Cliff Richard and the Duchess of York who arrived with her two daughters, the Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

The duchess, who has written children's books herself, said: "I have read all four of the books and think they are absolutely wonderful."

Spice Girl Emma Bunton arrived with her boyfriend, Damage singer Jade Jones, and was accompanied by two children.

"Baby Spice" said she had never read the books, but added: "I don't know what to expect, but I'm really excited."

The author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling, said she was absolutely stunned by the reception she had received and said she had been delighted to see so many children dressed up like the hero she had created.

The 12-year-old star of the film, Radcliffe, said: "I woke up last night at 3 a.m., 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., and although I am very nervous I am also extremely excited and happy today."

The adventures of the young wizard has bewitched millions through the books.

About 2,000 celebrities and fans were slated to sit down in a specially-decorated cinema for the first official showing of the film. The Odeon cinemas of London, particularly those in the Leicester Square and Haymarket theater district near Piccadilly Square, are large houses traditionally used for major premieres.

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" -- "Sorcerer's Stone" in the States" tells the story of a young orphan who escapes the clutches of his bullying aunt, uncle and cousin in studies at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Joined by a host of colorful and magical friends, he learns the art of wizardry allowing him to take revenge on the evil Voldermart, who is responsible for the deaths of his parents.

British writer J.K. Rowling's four Potter books have sold millions of copies worldwide, captivating readers across the generations.

The Warner Bros. film, which is directed by Chris Columbus and cost around 100 million pounds sterling to make -- an estimated $125 million, according to the Internet Movie Database -- is packed with special effects.

Filmed at locations around the United Kingdom including Oxford University, Alnwick Castle and Winchester Cathedral, the movie has proved a record-breaker at the box office before it opened.

It has attracted the biggest ever advance ticket booking with the Odeon chain of theaters selling 200,000 tickets, the company's most on record, and Warner Village making 140,000 reservations.

Odeon has dedicated 225 of its total 599 screens across the U.K. to "Harry Potter" and has trebled its call-center staff to deal with the huge demand for tickets.

Warner Bros. is a sister AOL Time Warner company to CNN.com.



 
 
 
 


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