Sunday, September 29, 2013


In hindsight, the way WB handled the directorship of what became their most lucrative investment (and THE ongoing movie event of the previous decade) was a bit risky, especially after Columbus decided not to stay on for the whole enterprise. What followed was a series of the sort of interesting - even bold - choices that most studios don't go anywhere near when hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line. The studio displayed massive confidence in their brand, taking the chance on directors who'd never crafted a tentpole in the hopes of shading the HARRY POTTER films with something unique. The idea of several visions for a single series doesn't usually sound like the best approach, but in a franchise dealing with growing children and a new year of school every entry, it's actually a rather ingenious method.

What's more, each director took it upon themselves to act as an early guide for their successor, from Columbus to Cuaron to Newell - all would show rough cuts of their movies to the "next man" or help walk them through their own approach to the franchise. This close cooperation (along with consistent Art Direction courtesy of Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan) is undoubtedly one of the elements that keeps the franchise feeling like one continuous story in a single world, rather than several disconnected films.

We saw how this helped create a sense of cohesion between the first four films in Part 1 and Part 2 of the retrospective. But something was still missing, and with the fourth director the series finally found it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Big things tend to start in interesting ways. Most know the story of Rowling's "waitress and welfare" period as a single mother laboring to bring the first book into existence, but even after becoming a best-seller, a film version might never have happened. Producer David Heyman didn't give Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone a second glance when it came across his desk. It was only after a secretary brought it to his attention with a positive review that it became a film priority for film adaptation.

Lucky for him.

Here is the second part (Part 1 being found here) of the retrospective on the HARRY POTTER franchise. The next two films marked some transition for the series, with changes in directors, release dates, and even major actors, but it made for some extremely interesting film-making.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


This summer marked the second anniversary since the release of the final Harry Potter movie and the sixth anniversary since the release of the final Harry Potter novel. For a decade this film franchise was the bread and butter of Warner Bros. pictures and a staple of both the holiday and summer movie season. So ingrained has it become in our popular culture that it's easy to forget it began as a fairly risky and completely unprecedented project in terms of scope and ambition - a ridiculously long-term adaptation of an as-yet unfinished book series, keeping the same cast of actors, including children cast when still in primary school.

That's. . . crazy. Even in an industry that was knee-deep in shooting 3 high-budget epic fantasy films at once under the direction of a schlock horror filmmaker from New Zealand, this project was a bold gamble. Especially the decision not to "age-up" the three main leads, an impulse most children's book adaptations give into immediately (looking at you PERCY JACKSON). To say nothing of the fact that there was every possibility the book craze could have turned out to be a short-lived fad, or Rowling could have "pulled a Jordan" or any other number of complications could have arisen.

But the gamble paid off. Warner Bros. invested over one billion dollars into the Boy Who Lived and in return got the (to date) highest-grossing film-franchise of all time. And a film series that arguably only improves as it goes on.

So after marathoning the films, I thought I'd revisit them all in a 4-part retrospective.