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'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' Debuts at Midnight, and Fans Are Ready

by Elisha Fieldstadt and The Associated Press /  / Updated 
Harry Potter fan, Fran Plagge (R) poses for a photograph after being the first person to receive the new Harry Potter script book inside Waterstones bookshop on Piccadilly in central London early in the morning of July 31, 2016, during the midnight party celebrating the publication of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One & Two" script book.DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP - Getty Images

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Break out the butterbeer: There's a new Harry Potter book.

Harry Potter fans are counting down to midnight when — nine years after the final novel about the boy wizard dropped — a new story will be released.

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" is different from its seven predecessors in that it's a play script and set 19 years after the novels ended.

Fans flocked Saturday to bookstores staying open late until the release of the book, which is on tight lock-down until the clock strikes 12, ushering in July 31 — Rowling and Harry Potter's birthday.

"I'm really excited to see what Harry's going to be like 19 years after, besides beating Lord Voldemort," said one young Potter fan, waiting for the release.

She's not alone. Barnes and Noble and Amazon saw the biggest book pre-order this time around since the arrival of "Deathly Hallows." And even in the age of e-readers, Scholastic is printing 4.5 million copies of "Cursed Child."

The play — which opened Saturday at London's Palace Theatre — is receiving equal enthusiasm.

Although producers won't release ticket sales figures, the two-part, five-hour show is largely sold out through December 2017; another 250,000 tickets will go on sale Aug. 4.

"I'd like as many Potter fans to see it as possible," said Rowling, who helped develop the story but didn't write the script.

There's already talk of a Broadway run, and Rowling said: "I'd like it to go wider than that."

And for those who can't get to London, or wherever the show may debut next, Rowling said: "People will be able to read the play, so they won't know everything because there's lots of surprises on stage but they'll know the story."

The surprises of production and plot have stayed largely clandestine, despite two months of play previews, with the help of #keepthesecrets buttons handed out at each performance.

Rowling said fans have "been amazing, they've been incredible."

"It is the most extraordinary fandom, so I'm kind of not surprised, because they didn't want to spoil it for each other," she said. "But I am so happy we got here without ruining everything."

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