"It all ends" is the tagline for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," an ominous, exciting way to signal that this 10-year film franchise, which has grossed more than $6 billion worldwide, will finally be drawing to a close. So you can imagine there was a certain amount of pressure to make sure that the final installment, which opens Friday, ends in just the right way. No wonder, then, that "Part 2's" final moments have been the source of a lot of anxiety -- both for filmmakers and for fans. That it's all been ridiculously overblown is, in a weird way, a testament to how much this series has meant to people.
(We should probably say right here that this post is going to be heavy with Spoilers. So if you don't want to know what happens at the end of "Part 2," avert your eyes now. OK, we warned you: Spoiler Alert.)
"Part 2" ends the same way as J.K. Rowling's book does, with an epilogue 19 years in the future where we see Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) as adults as they send their kids off to Hogwarts from King's Cross Station. Simple, direct, poignant: Easy enough, right? Apparently not.
The trouble started when unauthorized photographers sneaked onto the set and took photos of the cast during shooting of the epilogue. When the photos hit the web in May 2010, online commenters were less than kind, mocking the actors' old-age makeup and even snarkily comparing the 30-something Potter to a "middle-aged lesbian." Then came news later in the year that the filmmakers were going to reshoot the epilogue over Christmas, with Radcliffe insisting it was because of the rushed circumstances of the original shoot:
"I think we made it very hard on ourselves because we shot it at King's Cross for real. And this time we'll be shooting it at Leavesden on set. To have to rush that sequence and it's an important sequence, is not something any of us want to do."
Still, the impression remained that the reshoots were the result of the bad makeup -- so much so that "Part 2" director David Yates (who helmed the final four installments) was forced to go into more detail with Entertainment Weekly three months ago to convince the Potter faithful that the ending of their beloved franchise wasn't going to be a total disaster:
"I didn't want older actors," says Yates. "If you spent seven movies with these guys, you know these kids, and you want to end with them. We ended up with a scene that for all sorts of reasons, not just the make-up, just didn't work. I asked the studio to have a second pop at it, with a very simple solution — simple make-up, which may be enhanced slightly with special effects — that's really charming."
Of course, Yates can't win: The more he tries to assure people that the reshot ending is no big deal, the more people will worry that it must really be a big deal. Otherwise, why would they be spending so much time talking about it? (Being the director of a major studio blockbuster must be akin to having the same painful headache for about nine months straight.)
Reshoots are nothing new, with movies like the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy having to do them to fix sequences that don't quite work. If you've got the time and resources, why wouldn't you? But the moviegoing public tends to hear the word "reshoot" and substitutes it with "troubled production." Well, everyone should probably calm down: The reviews for "The Deathly Hallows - Part 2" have been ecstatic, with many critics calling it a more than satisfying conclusion to the series. And while such things are subjective, we actually thought that the so-called "controversial" epilogue is perfectly fine. If anything, people will probably complain that Radcliffe, Grint and Watson almost look a little too young in it. There's no pleasing some folks.
Harry Potter and the Twice Shot Ending: Behind the scenes of 'Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows -- Part 2' [Inside Movies/Entertainment Weekly]