If only the wave of a wand could make a big-budget, effects-laden film magically appear. Alas, that's not the case, so it's been two years since we've seen Harry Potter on screen and four years between the publication of Book 6 and its movie translation, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," is finally in theaters now.
The film series has been populated by Britain's acting royalty and three virtual unknowns when they were cast -- Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione and Rupert Grint as Ron. They bring to life characters from J.K. Rowling's blockbuster books about a boy who comes of age in the wizarding world.
Before we find out if the latest film was worth the wait, we take you to the portal of the "The Half-Blood Prince":
No. 1. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001, directed by Chris Columbus)
Box office: Domestic gross: $317.6 million. Worldwide: $974.8 million. (Box-office numbers are rounded off.) MPAA rating is PG.
By the book: 1998, 50,000 copies in initial print, 309 pages, original hardcover price: $16.95.
The story begins: Baby Harry is delivered to his Muggle (non-wizard) relatives, and there he stays until his 11th birthday. Harry is then whisked to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he finds that he's famous: His lightning scar reveals him to be "the boy who wouldn't die" at the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents. Harry meets fast friends Ron and Hermione, and headmaster-mentor Albus Dumbledore. Professor Snape and classmate Draco Malfoy become his nemeses as he encounters magic beyond his dreams, the sport of Quidditch and a resurrected threat to the wizarding world: Voldemort.
No. 2. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002, directed by Chris Columbus)
Box office: Domestic gross: $262 million. Worldwide: $879 million. MPAA rating is PG.
By the book: June 1999, 250,000 copies in initial print, 341 pages, original hardcover price: $17.95.
The story continues: "Chamber" reveals Voldemort's dark past, along with how the half-giant Hagrid came to be at Hogwarts as groundskeeper. Ron's sister, Ginny, plays a role as a pawn for Voldemort's actions, but her role in Harry's life is to become more important in the sixth book.
No. 3. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004, directed by Alfonso Cuaron)
Box office: Domestic gross: $249.6 million. Worldwide: $795.6 million. MPAA rating is PG.
By the book: September 1999, 500,000 copies in initial print, 435 pages, original hardcover price: $19.95.
The story continues: At Hogwarts for his third year, Harry finds the school guarded by the deadly Dementors against Sirius Black, who has escaped from the horrific wizard prison, Azkaban. Sirius has been wrongly accused and is, in fact, Harry's godfather. Harry must confront evil as Voldemort uses a servant to gain power over the boy wizard.
No. 4. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2005, directed by Mike Newell)
Box office: Domestic gross: $290 million. Worldwide: $896 million. MPAA rating is PG-13.
By the book: 2000, 3.8 million copies in initial print, 734 pages, original hardcover price: $25.95.
The story continues: All hail the arrival of Rob Pattinson as BMOC at Hogwarts, Cedric Diggory. Harry is thrust into the Triwizard Tournament, in which student participants must complete seemingly impossible tasks. He also must deal with the increasingly powerful Voldemort and his loyal legion of Death Eaters (although a school dance is almost as vexing to Harry, Ron and Hermione). Cedric loses a battle with evil, but Pattinson moves on to the "Twilight" series.
No. 5. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007, directed by David Yates)
Box office: Domestic gross: $292 million. Worldwide: $938.2 million. MPAA rating is PG-13.
By the book: 2003, 8.5 million copies in initial print, 869 pages, original hardcover price: $29.99.
The story continues: The magical world is divided over whether Voldemort has returned, and those in denial ridicule Harry. The now-15-year-old wizard tries to woo Cho Chang, while Dumbledore has been replaced at Hogwarts by the sadistic Dolores Umbridge. Harry trains schoolmates in Defense Against the Dark Arts, which helps in a battle vs. Voldemort and his followers. A prophecy is revealed: Either Harry or Voldemort "must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives."
No. 6. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (2009, Yates)
Now in theaters, MPAA rating is PG.
By the book: 2005, 10.8 million copies in initial print, 734 pages, original hardcover price: $29.99.
The story continues: Snape gets his wish to become Defense Against Dark Arts teacher. Harry finds a used potions book in which "The Half-Blood Prince" gives helpful tips. The "prince" turns out to be ... we'll pass on that reveal, for moviegoers who haven't read the books. Harry learns more about Voldemort and Horcruxes: divisions of the soul created when a person murders someone. Voldemort's must be destroyed to kill him. There's a heart-wrenching death, and Harry finds love with someone who's been waiting in the wings.
Where will this story leave Harry and Co. before the final chapters are conjured as two upcoming movies? No more spoilers here.
No. 7. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I and II" (Yates)
By the book: 2007, 15 million copies sold in the first 24 hours of availability worldwide, 784 pages, original hardcover price: $34.99.
Final films due: 2010 and 2011.