It’s that special season…

No, not the one where we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet and the stores are already playing Christmas Carols—though it’s also that season, unfortunately—but the one where it’s time to start thinking about what movies are coming out next year.

What, like you weren’t already thinking about it? C’mon.

The UK’s Times Online has published their predictions for the 50 biggest movies of 2009, and there are a half-dozen family and kiddie notables on the list.

They’ve pegged (amongst others) the following movies, which those of us with little ones may want to keep in mind:

I’m just glad for those last two; before I got to those, I was certain that all 2009 held was a bunch of sequels with colons in them….

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince buzz

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Yesterday’s release of the first official trailer just about blew the lid off of the internet. You probably heard a popping sound and didn’t know what it was, in fact. Allow me to clarify: It was Potter-mania.

But if you haven’t seen the trailer, you may be about to come down with a case of it, yourself. Check it out:

If you’re a Potter fan, you can’t watch that and tell me you’re not wishing it was November right now. C’mon. Don’t even try lying to me; I’m a trained mother and I can spot these things a mile away.

(For a really interesting time, go read the MTV Movie News dissection of the trailer. Those are some serious Potterphiles, right there.)

And then… get ready. Only 113 days left!

Shop the Harry Potter store at Ty’s Toy Box!

Harry Potter’s going on tour in 2009

Do you consider yourself one of J.K. Rowling’s biggest fans? Have you read every last Harry Potter book and seen all of the movies? Have you wondered what it would be like to see some of the fantastical objects and special effects from the movie up close and in person?

Boy, do I have news for you, and it’s just this—next year, you can check out Harry Potter: The Exhibition:

Becker Group, in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, today announced it will bring worldwide audiences “Harry Potter: The Exhibition,” a state-of-the-art exhibition highlighting artifacts from the Warner Bros. films based on J.K. Rowling’s beloved book series. The 10,000 square foot experience will premiere in Spring 2009 in a major market, and will appear in ten or more cities around the world throughout a five-year span.

“Harry Potter: The Exhibition” will include elaborate displays of authentic costumes, props and artifacts from popular environments featured in the films such as those from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including the Gryffindor common room and Hagrid’s hut. During its run, the exhibit will also be updated to include artifacts from the final installments of the Harry Potter film series. The exhibition will be displayed in major cultural and entertainment venues, museums and institutions, and will be supported by a multimedia promotional effort and advance ticket sales worldwide.

You can read the entire release on the site, but this is pretty exciting news. What I’m looking forward to hearing about is how much security is required for each of these venues; Potter fans seem to me like a pretty rowdy bunch. There’s no telling who might take it into their heads to try to steal the invisibility cloak or the genuine sorting hat.

Why, I can picture touring such an event with my children, even now. “Don’t touch!” I’ll lovingly hiss, three or four hundred times….

Harry Potter fans vie for Beedle the Bard look

Amazon is sponsoring an amazing contest to give fans a shot at seeing one of the seven copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Through April 22nd, 2008, you can take a shot at winning a very magical trip:

Amazon.com wants to send you and a friend to London, England to spend a weekend with the rare and delightful book of fairy tales (security guards included, of course), handwritten and illustrated by J.K. Rowling herself. Open to muggles ages 13 and older in 24 countries, the Beedle the Bard Ballad Writing Contest challenges you to creatively answer one of the following three questions in 100 words or less:

• What songs do wizards use to celebrate birthdays?
• What sports do wizards play besides Quidditch?
• What have you learned from the Harry Potter series that you use in everyday life?

English-language submissions will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. PDT April 22, 2008. An Amazon.com committee will select 10 semi-finalist submissions (based on creativity and writing style) from each of two age categories: 13-17 and 18-and-over. Amazon.com customers will determine the two finalists and Grand Prize winner by voting for their favorites. The Grand Prize includes round-trip airfare, two nights lodging at a London hotel, as well as an expense allowance. Plus, each of the finalists from the two age groups will receive an Amazon Gift Certificate in the amount of $1,000.

I can’t really think of a prize more fanciful than if they could offer you a weekend at Hogwarts. And really, if they could do that, then you’d have to worry about being turned into a teacup or having your soul sucked out by Dementors or something. The trip they’re offering sounds a lot safer, and still pretty exciting.

You’ve gotta love that it’s open to kids, too. The Harry Potter enterprise knows its fans, that’s for sure. May the best muggle win!