Harry Potter could have been Animated

Harry Potter has become such a popculture phenomenon with eight films spanning 10 years, spawning its own theme park and a series where we watched a trio of children grow up into young adults in the process.

But back before this all started, it was just another popular book series that Warner Brothers picked up the rights for, completely unaware of what it might become.

And it is very interesting to see what they had considered in its early stages, like offering Spielberg to direct – who wanted it animated.

/Film says:

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 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.’

Spielberg instead took on Warner’s 2001 sci-fi film ‘A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,’ and the Hogwarts post fell to Chris Columbus, director of ‘Home Alone’ and ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ who was then tapped for the job …/strong>

Imagine Harry Potter as an animated franchise? I don’t think it would have worked as well in a cartoon. Pardon the pun, but the real magic of this franchise comes from seeing a REAL boy being swept into a fantastical world of Hogwarts School for Wizardary.

And combining the books? I can’t see that have paying off as well, but considering they didn’t know what kind of hit they would have on their hands, so the modest buy for the film rights on an unproven book series was a gamble.
When it hit big here I bet they were happy with the decisions they made. I know I am.

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6 thoughts on “Harry Potter could have been Animated

  1. By the time they starting really planning for these movies, they were already a mega success, unlike any other children’s book series. So I think a lot of this looking-back on things is rose-colored glasses. Yeah, it was a good business decision to make the live-action films, but it would have been a stupid one not to — even then.

  2. I think it would have done great. Think of some of the great animated features from the 80’s, which Spielberg had a hand in some of these – The Land Before Time (Original, not sequels), An American Tale, and The Secret of Nimh, to name a few. I feel it could have very easily been like those, all of which are great.

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