2001 M11 16
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has lived under the stairs at his aunt and uncle’s house his whole life. But on his 11th birthday, he learns he’s a powerful wizard — with a place waiting for him at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As he learns to harness his newfound powers with the help of the school’s kindly headmaster, Harry uncovers the truth about his parents’ deaths — and about the villain who’s to blame. This first chapter in J.K. Rowling’s wizard saga was a cultural phenomenon.
The first film in the Harry Potter saga set the tone for the entire series to come. The excellent casting cannot be under-praised. Radcliffe was the perfect Potter, Rupert Grint was a great Ron Weasley, and Emma Watson is a transcendent Hermione Granger. Director Chris Columbus leaned on his “Home Alone” experience to get incredible performances from his young cast.
Every supporting actor is excellent, too: Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, and the brilliant Alan Rickman as Professor Snape.
John Williams brings his legendary magic to the music, as well.
This film is known as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the United States.
2002 M11 13
Cars fly, trees fight back, and a mysterious house-elf named Dobby comes to warn Harry Potter at the start of his second year at Hogwarts. Adventure and danger await when bloody writing on a wall announces: The Chamber Of Secrets Has Been Opened. To save Hogwarts will require all of Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s magical abilities and courage.
Director Chris Columbus reunites with his stellar cast. They’re joined by Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart and Jason Isaacs as Draco’s villainous father, Lucius Malfoy.
2004 M05 31
Year three at Hogwarts means new fun and challenges as Harry learns the delicate art of approaching a Hippogriff, transforming shape-shifting Boggarts into hilarity and even turning back time. But the term also brings danger: soul-sucking Dementors hover over the school, an ally of the accursed He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named lurks within the castle walls, and fearsome wizard Sirius Black escapes Azkaban. And Harry will confront them all.
Major changes come to the series with this film. Director Alfonso Cuarón provided a more mature tone to suit the material. The cast expanded with Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, and Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney. Michael Gambon also joined the cast as Albus Dumbledore after Richard Harris’ death.
2005 M11 16
When Harry Potter’s name emerges from the Goblet of Fire, he becomes a competitor in a grueling battle for glory among three wizarding schools — the Triwizard Tournament. But since Harry never submitted his name for the Tournament, who did? Now Harry must confront a deadly dragon, fierce water demons and an enchanted maze only to find himself in the cruel grasp of He Who Must Not Be Named. In this fourth film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, everything changes as Harry, Ron and Hermione leave childhood forever and take on challenges greater than anything they could have imagined.
Director Mike Newell joined the series with this film. Notable cast additions include Brendan Gleeson as Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody and Ralph Fiennes as the evil Lord Voldemort.
2007 M06 28
The rebellion begins! Lord Voldemort has returned, but the Ministry of Magic is doing everything it can to keep the wizarding world from knowing the truth – including appointing Ministry official Dolores Umbridge as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. When Umbridge refuses to teach practical defensive magic, Ron and Hermione convince Harry to secretly train a select group of students for the wizarding war that lies ahead. A terrifying showdown between good and evil awaits in this enthralling film version of the fifth novel in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Prepare for battle!
Director David Yates takes the helm here, and he’d go on to direct all the remaining Potter films. Cast additions include Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange and Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge.
2009 M07 7
As Lord Voldemort tightens his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven. Harry suspects perils may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemorts defenses and to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information. Even as the decisive showdown looms, romance blossoms for Harry, Ron, Hermione, and their classmates. Love is in the air, but danger lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.
New cast members include Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn.
2010 M10 6
Harry, Ron and Hermione walk away from their last year at Hogwarts to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, putting an end to Voldemort’s bid for immortality. But with Harry’s beloved Dumbledore dead and Voldemort’s unscrupulous Death Eaters on the loose, the world is more dangerous than ever.
New cast members include Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood and Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour.
2011 M07 7
Harry, Ron and Hermione continue their quest to vanquish the evil Voldemort once and for all. Just as things begin to look hopeless for the young wizards, Harry discovers a trio of magical objects that endow him with powers to rival Voldemort’s formidable skills.
The final film in the Harry Potter saga finished its run as the third-highest-grossing film in Hollywood history.
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