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A Look At the Harry Potter Film Series

November 16, 2010

In just two days thousands of movie-goers around the world will flock to the theater in capes and wizard hats to watch the final Harry Potter movie, The Deathly Hallows. Some will carry a stuffed snowy owl under their arm, others will have a magic wand in their pocket. How does a film franchise obtain such devoted (and at times eccentric) fans throughout the world? Let’s check out the history behind one of the largest film series of all time.

The Harry Potter Books

The seven Potter books, written by J.K. Rowling from 1995 to 2007, have had an astounding amount of success. They have made Rowling the highest-earning author in the world (she makes almost $8 every second.) As of 2008 have sold over 400 million copies worldwide! With the book franchise so successful, the first film had an audience of millions before it was even made.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

Directed by Chris Columbus, the first film in the franchise also remains the highest grossing (almost 1 billion dollars worldwide.) Columbus followed the book in great detail. and many loved Columbus’ interpretation of Rowling’s masterpiece; the series was off to a great start.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Columbus directed this film as well, and the result was similar to his first effort. Financially the film did well, though did not make as much as the first. Stylistically it remained similar as well, due in part to Columbus’ direction. He continued to adhere to the book’s story both in the first movie as well as this one, which some complained made both films tedious and long.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Chris Columbus did not wish to direct another Potter film, so Alfonso Cuaron was chosen as director for this film; this led to a completely different feel than the first two movies. Cuaron took more artistic liberty than Columbus, meaning that some details were left out that were present in the book. This equalled a faster pace, but also led many fans to outrage over the omissions. A major character change was Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore, which was an unfortunate result of Richard Harris’ (the previous Dumbledore) death. Critically Azkaban has fared better than any of the other films, though monetarily it did the worst.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Cuaron was only signed to direct one film, so for the fourth Potter movie British director Mike Newell was chosen to direct. Due to the length of the Goblet of Fire book, there was much that had to be cut out of the film version. Despite that fact, Goblet of Fire still was a financial and critical success.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

David Yates was chosen to direct Phoenix (and the final four films.) Order of the Phoenix was the lowest rated critically, but grossed the second greatest amount of money out of all the Potter movies. It is the longest book, which meant that the film version required the most amount of material cut from the story. Quidditch is entirely absent from the film, as are the characters Dobby and Rita Skeeter. The film is regarded as a success, however, mostly due to the understanding that compacting such a dense book into a few hours of screen time is an immense challenge.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Once again directed by Yates, this film is set apart from the rest by the unique cinematography and coloring (it has been the only movie in the franchise to be nominated for a cinematography Oscar.) Much of the ending of the movie differed from that of the book, which was somewhat controversial for many Potter fans. It was still a highly successful film critically as well as financially (the 3rd highest of the Potter films.)

Now that you are an expert in the Harry Potter film franchise, go check out for more in depth history and detail than you can possibly remember. And check out the trailer for The Deathly Hallows below.


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