Spielberg Initially Wanted an Animated 'Harry Potter' Years Ago

November 7, 2010
Source: Hero Complex

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

This isn't so much news as it is a fascinating story worth reading and discussing. Plus it gives me a chance to make mention of an absolutely fantastic new article on Hero Complex that looks back at the entire Harry Potter franchise and how it all came together. One segment they pulled to highlight that was very amusing to hear, is about how Warner Bros offered Steven Spielberg the chance to direct the first few Harry Potter films, but he wanted to make them animated and condense the first couple books. How's that for a totally different concept, now that we've seen six full-length live-action Harry Potter movies. Read on for the story!

Here's the excerpt pulled from that great Hero Complex Harry Potter article talking about Spielberg's notes:

"Warner Bros. secured the rights for four 'Harry Potter' novels for about $2 million. At that point, only the first book was on shelves in England and none had reached America. Warner Bros. tried to get a financial partner on the project, reaching out to studios including Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks, which passed.

Once the books became a sensation, greenlighting the first 'Potter' film became a major priority at Warner Bros., where Alan Horn had recently taken over as president and Barry Meyer as chairman (replacing longtime studio chiefs Terry Semel and Bob Daly). DreamWorks circled back and proposed a partnership, but Horn wisely declined. There was one aspect of the DreamWorks talks that did intrigue him, however.

'I did think it would be worthwhile for Steven Spielberg to direct,' Horn said. 'We offered it to him. But one of the notions of Dreamworks' and Steven's was, "Let's combine a couple of the books, let's make it animated," and that was because [visual effects and] Pixar had demonstrated that animated movies could be extremely successful. Because of the wizardry involved, they were very effects-laden. So I don't blame them. But I did not want to combine the movies, and I wanted it to be live action.'"

Spielberg then went on to direct Artificial Intelligence in 2001 instead and Warner Bros hired Home Alone and Bicentennial Man director Chris Columbus for Harry Potter. I've also always thought of Alan Horn as one of the smartest execs in Hollywood today, and this just goes to show he's helped steer that studio in the right direction ever since he hit the top. Without him making smart decisions, we probably wouldn't be about to see the dark, epic version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that's out in a few weeks. It's just a fun story that doesn't really mean much today, and I don't think it even makes Spielberg look that bad anyway, but it is interesting to think about the different directions this amazing franchise could have gone.

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still wouldn't watch it

Jericho on Nov 7, 2010


This is old news. Spielberg's name was bandied around in the press as a potential Harry Potter director a decade ago before he turned it down.

Mathieu on Nov 7, 2010


Yeah old news, but still fascinating to think about the whole "What if" idea. I do think Warner Bros. went in the right direction in the end though.

4k4k on Nov 7, 2010


I remember hearing about this back in 2001, and I also remember that Spielberg wanted Haley Joel Osment as Harry. THAT would have been horrible. Utterly terrifying. I'm just so impressed that these movies have all been made with artistic integrity, all held up to a great level of quality, with wonderful acting that is all authentically British. There has never been and there will never be a series like it, whether you love the series or not.

DinoChow on Nov 7, 2010


glad that didn't happen. instead of just tearing the source material to little itty bitty pieces and throwing it out, like what happened in the first six movies (and probably the seventh one too) they did make, Spielberg would have blown the source material into oblivion by combining the first few books! Unbelievable. I usually think of Spielberg as a man of vision, apparently he is losing his touch. As utterly terrible as the movies thus far have been it obviously could have been a lot worse. Good call on not hiring Spielberg Warner Bros.--gave the series what little magic it does have.

g on Nov 7, 2010


I remember hearing about something similar, but without Spielberg. It was more of a generic rumor that after the 4th film they would all be CGI or something weird like that. I always thought it was ridiculous but one of my cousins was adamant that it was going to happen.

jbaker475 on Nov 7, 2010


#4 - when you say " There has never been and there will never be a series like it, whether you love the series or not." - what do you mean? if someone dislikes the HP movies, they're not going to share your view. actually, the title of "most memorable movie series" would be LotR as far as i'm concerned..........and nothing would even come close to it. (and i fully expect the "hobbit" movies to be just as good as LotR and be considered part of the that series once there out) here's an interesting thought: LotR fans vs. HP fans as to which series is the that'd be a rumble! LOL

beavis on Nov 7, 2010


I wouldn't let Spielberg near anything.

Crapola on Nov 7, 2010


I would let Spielberg near anything.

ryderup on Nov 8, 2010


Spielberg would have made for something interesting, but animated? - oh dear, doesn't take much genius to work that one out! Hells. no!

RUSE on Nov 8, 2010


The animated part is not that bad, i would still watch it, but combine the first books? Who the hell had this idea?! That would have been terrible! The philosopher stone was already a little lost in translation from the book...

Ricardo on Nov 8, 2010


so glad it wasnt animated i love the live-action movies cant wait for next week 😀

A5J4DX on Nov 8, 2010

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