Steven Spielberg Was Offered First HARRY POTTER Movie; Wanted to Combine Books and Make it Animated

     November 7, 2010

A long time ago in a magical galaxy far, far away, legendary director Steven Spielberg was in talks to direct a little film entitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The LA Times, in their piece, “A Hollywood History of the Harry Potter Property”, explains that Warner Bros., having just purchased the rights to J.K. Rowling’s novels (for only $2 million!) back when Potter was little more than an overseas sensation, contacted DreamWorks in the hopes of securing a financial partner. DreamWorks was reluctant at first, but jumped on board once the books became a worldwide phenomenon, and suggested that Spielberg direct the first film.

“I did think it would be worthwhile for Steven Spielberg to direct,” Warner Bros. president Alan 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 of the [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.”

Hit the jump for more.

As we countdown to the finale of the most successful film series of all time, many a website are offering a look back at the extraordinary Harry Potter franchise, which kicked off way back in 1997 with the overseas release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. At this point, it’s intriguing to imagine the various roads the franchise might’ve gone down had it fallen into different hands.

Personally, I’m glad The Beard’s take didn’t pan out. An animated adaptation of the popular wizard would’ve looked handsome on the screen, and would’ve been quite popular to boot. Yet, part of the fun afforded by the films was watching stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson literally blossom into full blown movie stars right before our eyes. An animated film would’ve jettisoned all of that in favor of pixilated incarnations of Harry, Ron and Hermione – ironic when you consider Spielberg is currently adapting The Adventures of Tintin with such a process.

And what if Spielberg had gotten his wish and combined several of the books into one narrative? Imagine four or five Potter films as opposed to the current seven (well, eight when considering Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Parts One and Two). Imagine what parts of the books might have been jettisoned.

Granted, Rowling’s long-winded narrative might have benefited from such a compact technique. I always felt that many parts of Order of the Phoenix and Goblet of Fire were unnecessary. A tighter narrative might have resulted in fewer dollars earned, but it might also have made the series stronger. Or maybe not.

As is, I think Harry Potter is a terrific series. Uneven, to be sure, but ultimately charming, exciting and faithful to the books, which is all we can really hope for.

Still, it’s fun to explore the possibilities.

Spielberg went on to direct A.I.: Artificial Intelligence with Haley Joel Osment (who was at one point was being considered to play Harry Potter), whilst Home Alone director Chris Columbus was brought on board to bring Rowling’s magical world to life.

Oh, what might have been.

You can check out the full Hero Complex article here.

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  • Carlos

    Some parts of the Goblet of Fire and the Order of the Phoenix could have been cut? Unnecessary. I must strongly disagree with Mr. Ames. Particularly in Goblet of Fire were 2 very important subplots were cut out: Hagrid and his friends dealing with the prejudice in wizard society due to the fact that he is a half giant; Rita Skeeter vs Hermione.
    That weakened the story and Hermione´s character. That movie could have been turned into two movies, like the final one.
    The Order of the Phoenix could have had more time for Kreacher and Siriu´s family ties. All these were important for both character and setting development.

    And, finally, I am glad that Mr. Spielberg didnt get his wish. We were better off with the movies.

  • Eholsin1

    Im glad they decided to do live action movies. I love the series. Prisoner of Azkaban is still my favorite because of the amazing style Cuaron has as a director, but Yates has gotten a lot better over the past few films. Im really excited for Deathly Hallows.

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  • InfiniteMonkey

    They should do this, as a Saturday Morning Cartoon Series or even on the Cartoon Network but with new stories.:D

  • Afadsfsdf

    The movies that we do have were done so poorly except for one and two that I prefer Spielberg’s vision.

  • Skyjedi2005

    if i remember correct it was to be live action and he wrote a script that JK Rowling rejected, he also wanted Haley Hoel OSmont. Supposedly she fired him.

  • Skyjedi2005

    If any Harry Potter fan wanted this, just remember what he did to Indiana Jones.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, if you’re talking about KotCS, I put about 75% of the blame of that movie on Lucas and his silly writing. Spielberg at least turned it into a watchable incarnation of Indy.

  • Garrettlol

    Don’t forgot another travesty that was thankfully averted.

    Michael Jackson wanted to do a Broadway musical adaptation.