Somewhere, deep in the offices of Warner Bros., one can faintly hear the sound of gnashing teeth and torn hair; something equivalent to postpartum depression is setting in as the “Harry Potter” franchise nears its final chapter. The series has been an incredible cash cow for Warner, with a reported $5.4 billion box office take on six films so far (with two left to go), and one can imagine some studio suit wishing he could just wave his magic wand, chant “persevero infinitio!” and make the good times last forever.

Alas, all stories require an ending, both for satisfying dramatic resolution, and also because projects that go on forever tend to wind up like one of those newspaper comic strips that may have been funny once, but no one can exactly remember when. (Did somebody say “Garfield”?) Better to bow out while you’re on top than to wait until you’ve been embalmed in your own reputation, entombed by the strictures of “what worked before.”

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