The Harry Potter series created by JK Rowling has not only been a huge hit across bookstores everywhereâ€"it has also been a hugely successful film franchise. The Harry Potter book series was a clear hit when it first began to be developed for film, and like most popular books that are adapted for the silver screen, there was controversy when talk of a film version first began to build. Many fans were afraid that the film version would be somehow disloyal to the book series or that some other kind of change for the silver screen would mar the book version for readers. However, most dedicated readers of the Harry Potter book series would agree that the film adaptations released thus far have been basically faithful to the book versions.
The film rights for the Harry Potter book series were first sold in 1999. JK Rowling agreed to sell the film rights for the book series to Warner Bros. for a reported $1.9 million dollars. Some analysts and fans have speculated about the terms of the deal, but it has been widely reported that Rowlingâ€™s only major concern was that the principal actors cast be British. For a long time, it appeared that Steven Spielberg would helm the first film version of a Harry Potter book, but the deal eventually fizzled out. It appears that Spielberg wanted the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopherâ€™s Stone, to be turned into an animated voice with the voice of Haley Joel Osment as Harry Potter. Later, Spielberg would comment that he withdrew from the project because it did not prove enough of an artistic challenge to him. Some speculated that Spielberg dropped out from the project because he did not want to contend with Rowlingâ€™s demands, but both deny this rumor.
Finally, it was agreed that Chris Columbus would direct at least the first two pictures in the film series, Harry Potter and the Philosopherâ€™s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was directed by Alfonso Cuaron. The fourth, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was directed by Mike Newell. The fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was directed by David Yates but has not yet been released. It has been rumored that Rowlingâ€™s first choice director had been Terry Gilliam, but this did not work out.
An exhaustive search was held to cast the Harry Potter films. Finally, the casting calls produced the three leads in 2000. The main actors cast from these open callsâ€"Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, were virtual unknowns at the time, but they have since been lauded for their sincere portrayals of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley, respectively. It is believed that part of the charm of the films has been due to the casting of several important character portrayals by actors such as Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Richard Harris and Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore, and Maggie Smith as Professor Minerva McGonagall.
Some fans also believe that part of the magic and fun of seeing the Harry Potter universe up on the big screen is that the film was scripted by Steve Kloves with help from Rowling herself. All films have used the latest in special effects and computer generated imaging technology to create a wondrous universe that is not quite like anything else seen before on film. The look and feel of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has made readers feel as if the book has come alive on a larger and more vibrant canvas than could ever be depicted on the page.
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