Harry Potter Film Sparks Dispute | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 15.11.2001
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Harry Potter Film Sparks Dispute

The new Harry Potter film is not just magic – it has been the cause for dispute, too. The run up to the start of the film in Germany has been overshadowed by quarrels over a film poster.


Star of the show - Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe

It was a sad sight for Germany's Harry Potter fans: A huge film poster due to be hung from the façade of a high-rise hotel in the capital's city centre was forbidden by the relevant district authority, who said the poster was too large and therefore needed a planning permission.

Workers rolling out the film poster were told to stop their work two days ago. Since then the partly unrolled film poster has been hanging from the hotel – only Harry Potter's eyes and hair can be seen, the rest of his body is still disclosed. The unravelling is thought to be resumed today.

With only under a week to go before the new Potter film is launched in Germany, the dispute throws a shadow over the capital's pre-film excitement. But otherwise, Potter fans all over the country are preparing for the big day, which will see the first film of author Joanne Rowling's four best-sellers launched in Germany.

The film, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is already a great success in the US and Great Britain, where it started on November 16 .

Magical Merchandising

But in the US, the start of the film was also overshadowed – by demonstrations against a sponsorship deal between the film producers and Coca Cola.

Members of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have accused Coca Cola of using the deal to sell "junk food" to children.

They claim the increasing amount of soft drinks consumed by children over the last 25 years has caused people gain weight and has damaged their teeth.

A member of the CSPI has even set up a website asking Potter fans to join a 'Save Harry' campaign to stop any future connections with Coke.

Controversial commerce ?

The dispute over the Coca-Deal throws light on yet another controversial aspect of the film: the commercial aspect. Widespread advertising for the film has been made possible by a 150 million Dollars (169 million Euros) cash injection from Coca-Cola. In exchange Harry Potter counterfeit is decorating coke cans and other Coca Cola products.

Toy maker Mattel spent 50 million Dollars for a licence for the company's Harry Potter products. Mattel now supplies cuddly owls, card games and toy figures to 160 countries in the world.

And German companies are not far behind. North German-based Achterbahn AG bought 120 licences for more than 500 Harry Potter items for the German market. The selection ranges from baseball caps, pyjamas to pencils and mousepads.

But while Harry Potter Potter fans around the world are being swamoped with fan items, some children are still having problems gaining access to the books themselves.

According to the authors of the website "Muggles for Harry Potter", there are restrictions on the books in 13 US states.

World popularity

However, nothing appears to be able to stop the success story of whiz(-ard) kid Harry Potter.

Only a few days after the the film started in the US ticket sales overtook the biggest-selling film of all time, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

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