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Now's a happy time of year for Harry Potter fanatics, with the movie doing gangbusters in theaters right now and all of the cast doing press, talking about growing up with the franchise and looking forward to the seventh movie and--yikes!--having to kiss each other. I've seen the movie twice now, and was also at a press conference last week with the main cast as well as the producers, screenwriter and director. And while I got as excited about this really entertaining new movie as anyone, what I really want to know is what's going to happen next.

Fresh off a re-read of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I've got a few predictions about where they'll go with the two movie adaptations, some of them based on the changes made between the sixth book and movie. MAJOR SPOILERS for both Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows follow, though if you've read the book and seen the new movie you know as much as I do. Help me figure out what will happen with Ron and Hermione's relationship, whether or not Snape will get a big death scene, and what a road trip Harry Potter movie might actually look like. I've got 9 predictions, and I'm anxious to hear yours.

SPOILERS. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.



No Weasley wedding bells.

The most gigantic change between the sixth book and movie, of course, is the elimination of the battle at Hogwarts, where members of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army battled the select Death Eaters who had entered through Malfoy's Vanishing Cabinet. Plot-wise, the scene isn't really missed-- no major characters die or are injured, and Hogwarts goes on for a seventh year unharmed. But the scene's absence points to a larger absence in the series as a whole, namely Bill and Charlie Weasley, the eldest Weasley brothers who have never been a major part of the films. In book six, Bill is preparing to marry former Triwizard Champion Fleur Delacour, and the seventh book opens with their wedding. The fact that both are absent from the sixth film entirely, and their relationship isn't mentioned at all, suggests strongly that Bill and Fleur's wedding will not happen in the movie.

So how will the film begin? I can't imagine them getting rid of the "decoy Harry" escape, given how it introduces the powers of Harry's wand and is a death scene for both Hedwig and Mad-Eye Moody. And I hope that the Dursleys will show up one more time, especially for Dudley's tiny change of heart. But I'd imagine that, once Harry is shipped off to a safe location, it will be just a random Death Eater attack, not timed to a wedding, that sends him and Hermione and Ron to Grimmauld Place. Now where might that safe location be?


The Burrow burned down!

Well, maybe. In a scene written specifically for the sixth movie, Bellatrix Lestrange and Greyback attack the Burrow and set it on fire. Does it burn to the ground, or do the assembled members of the Order manage to set it back right? The movie, anxious as it is to move on to the next plot point, doesn't say. It would be incredibly ballsy for them to open the seventh movie with all the Weasleys crammed in at Aunt Muriel's or homeless altogether, but also hard to imagine in a franchise that just gave us a PG-rated entry. My guess would be some other form of the Burrow will exist, and that'll be the place where the Order briefly gathers, maybe even throws Mad-Eye Moody a funeral, before getting broken up by the Death Eaters and sending Harry, Ron and Hermione on the run.


Rufus Scrimgeour finally shows up; is he dead within 20 minutes?

The latest bit of casting news to come from the seventh movie finds Bill Nighy playing Rufus Scrimgeour, the Minister of Magic who replaced Cornelius Fudge in the fifth book but hasn't shown up on screen yet. Will Nighy really show up for Scrimgeour's one big scene, in which he presents Harry, Ron and Hermione with them items left for them in Dumbledore's will, and then get killed offscreen? I'd predict a much stronger presence, maybe even making him the Minister under the Imperius curse, not Thicknesse. But Thicknesse, a character who existed in no other films, has been cast for Deathly Hallows, so it really might be early curtains for Nighy. Maybe they'll at least give us an on-screen death.


Ron and Hermione get one kiss; when will it happen?

At last week's press conference for Half-Blood Prince, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson talked awkwardly about their first kiss together, the culmination of years of flirtation between Ron and Hermione. And yet, at the same press conference, David Yates said they were still in the planning stages of the Battle of Hogwarts, the final section of the book that features the only written kiss between Ron and Hermione-- at least, that Harry witnesses. This probably means the Ron and Hermiones kiss will happen earlier in the movie, which makes since given how damn long we've all been waiting for it. A logical place seems to be Ron's return to the tent after retrieving the sword of Gryffindor; in the book Hermione is angry at him for days after his return, but let her anger dissipate a little quicker and she can welcome him back with a big kiss. I figure it's either that or getting it out the way in a comedic way, with Harry accidentally interrupting them the way he did Ginny and Dean in the sixth book. Still, I think Ron and Hermione deserve a big romantic moment, and if it's not going to be during the battle, Ron's triumphant return seems like the most logical spot.


"It's a road trip movie."

All the principals involved in the final films have raved about how the first half is a road movie, finding the characters away from Hogwarts and constantly chased by Death Eaters. This is pretty much consistent with what we saw in the books, as Ron, Harry and Hermione escape the Ministry of Magic, Godric's Hollow, Xenophilius Lovegood's house and Malfoy Manor. There's not as much sitting around and arguing in tents as you remember from the book-- it only feels like 100 pages-- but the emphasis on the road trip element gives me hope that the movies won't be titled, as Vulture cheekily suggested, Harry Potter and His Friends Shouting In Tents.


Harry and Ginny: on or off?

The other memorable scene cut from the sixth film is Dumbledore's funeral, in which both Ron and Hermione's relationship is sealed-- things are left vague but hopeful in the movie-- and Harry pulls Ginny aside to tell her she's in grave danger if she sticks around with his fool lightning-scarred self. And throughout the book, they stick to it pretty well-- Ginny only pops up in the last 100 pages or so, except for Harry thinking about her from time to time. But does the fact that Harry doesn't dump Ginny mean we'll see more of her in the seventh movie? Much more likely, I'm thinking, is that the scene will happen at the beginning of the seventh movie, just before he, Ron and Hermione take off for lands unknown. The Harry and Ginny romance deserves at least one more mention before we see them aged up and sending their kids off on the Hogwarts Express.


Remus & Tonks: totally on.

To me the most irritating subplot of Half-Blood Prince the book was Tonks' mousy-brown-hair depression, which culminated in an out-of-the-blue confession of love to Remus Lupin, who went on in the seventh book to never seem all that into her. Happily, this entire subplot is substituted in the movie with a single word; when Tonks and Remus are at the Burrow during Christmas, she calls him "sweetheart." That's it. Presumably in the seventh book they will go on to have Teddy Lupin, and maybe they'll ditch the whole "Remus isn't so sure he should have married this girl" thing, because it was stupid in the book. Sadly, I think they'll still be meeting their untimely ends-- when J.K. Rowling kills you off, it tends to be pretty final.


"SEVERUS SNAPE?"

(Bonus points to you if you get that Deathly Hallows reference) Snape is clearly the pivotal character of both the sixth book and movie, and Alan Rickman, as ever, makes the most of every instant he's onscreen. Even though they cut Snape's best line from the book-- "Don't you dare call me a coward!"-- Rickman conveys Snape's ambivalence over killing Dumbledore with the subtlest facial expressions; even if you've never read Book 7, you know this guy is due for redemption. But if you have read Book 7, you'll remember that Snape's redemption is something of a letdown. An entire chapter is dedicated to his memories that exonerate him, but he barely figures into the rest of the book. Will Yates and his screenwriter Steve Kloves write Snape an extra scene, maybe revealing earlier that he was the one who brought Harry the sword of Gryffindor? Would they even let him tell Voldemort to his face that he's been Dumbledore's man all along? It's rare that anything is added to the movies, given how much trouble they have keeping everything in, but with two movies I think there's plenty of room to give Snape a slightly better sendoff than he had in the book. This might just be fannish wishful thinking, but at least we all know Alan Rickman is up to the task.


"Keeping our powder dry" for the Battle of Hogwarts.

When I asked director David Yates last week about the decision to cut the Hogwarts battle out of the sixth movie, he mentioned the epic Battle of Hogwarts that takes place at the end of the seventh book, and said they're "keeping our powder dry" for that monstrosity. This isn't news, of course-- that battle has some of the best action scenes of the entire series, and it'll be a devil to plan and execute no matter what. All Yates' comment meant to me is that we can expect something truly spectacular at the end of the final movie, the culmination of all these special effects and hopefully a finale that leaves us all feeling satisfied.

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