Movies 1-3: Fun Facts and Differences

This post may contain spoilers if you haven’t seen the films or read the books.

We can’t talk about the books without looking at the amazing movies as well. Overall the movies are a wonderful representation of the Harry Potter series. I know a lot was changed which obviously can’t be helped, and a lot of scenes were cut and characters were left out (people are still peeved off about the exclusion of Peeves [total pun intention]). There’s so, so, much I could talk about in regards to the films: the actors, the changes, the nice little details and behind the scene stories, but I’ve kept myself restrained. I have included some fun facts, but also linked to more. There are enough “Things You Didn’t Know About Harry Potter” articles going around that I don’t need to become one of them myself. I’ve also tried to keep it as short as possible but it is a little long, sorry about that.

Philosopher’s Stone

Fun Facts

  • The film had its world premiere on 4 November 2001, in London’s Leicester Square, with the cinema arranged to resemble Hogwarts School.
  • Rosie O’Donnell almost could have been Mrs Weasley except Rowling wanted an all British cast. The same goes for Robin Williams who wanted to be Hagrid
  • The Restricted Section scene was filmed in the Duke Humfrey’s building at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. They have very strict rules about not bringing flames into the library. The makers of Harry Potter were the first ever to be allowed to break this rule in hundreds of years.
  • This is the only Harry Potter film that does not feature Mark Williams, who plays Arthur Weasley
  • Despite him being referred to as a great wizard quite a bit throughout, Harry never actually casts a single spell in this movie.
  • Rik Mayall was cast as Peeves the Poltergeist and filmed for three weeks. He was eventually cut from the film.
  • Hermione performing magic on the Hogwarts Express train to fix Harry’s broken glasses was not in the book, but it was added for the film.
  • Dan originally has green contacts and Emma was given false teeth, however Dan’s eyes reacted strongly to the contacts and Emma couldn’t talk clearly with the fake teeth in her mouth.
  • In the script, the flashbacks to Voldemort killing Harry’s parents were written by Rowling herself. The producers knew she was the only one who knew exactly what happened.
  • The floating candles in the Great Hall were created using candle-shaped holders containing oil and burning wicks and suspended from wires that moved up and down on a special effects rig to create the impression that they were floating.
  • Three owls play Hedwig: Gizmo, Ook, and Sprout, but mainly Gizmo.
  • It took the owls six months to learn how to carry the letters at the start of the film.
  • Richard Harris only agreed to take the part of Albus Dumbledore after his eleven-year-old granddaughter threatened never to speak to him again.

Extra Trivia
More Trivia
Even more trivia

Note: There are obviously a fair few, but these are a key selection

  • Harry’s time at Mrs. Figg’s is not shown
  • The boa constrictor from Brazil in the zoo becomes a Burmese Python
  • The Quidditch pitch is altered from a traditional stadium to an open field circled by spectator towers
  • Peeves’ role is not included in the film, neither is Professor Binns, the History of Magic teacher and various other minor characters.

More changes
Further Changes


Chamber of Secrets

Fun Facts

  • The film premiered in the UK on 3 November 2002 and in the United States and Canada on 14 November 2002 before its wide release on 15 November.
  • Fourteen Ford Anglias were wrecked in the filming of the scene where Harry and Ron crashed into the Whomping Willow.
  • Shirley Henderson, who played Moaning Myrtle, is the oldest actress (age 37) to portray a Hogwarts student.
  • Hugh Grant was originally cast as Gilderoy Lockhart but was forced to withdraw at the last moment because of scheduling conflicts.
  • The filmmakers had to build an entire new row of houses as they lost access to the neighbourhood that they originally used to depict the Dursley’s House.
  • All the potions consumed on set were actually soup.
  • Fawkes was so realistic-looking that Richard Harris thought he was a real bird wearing a Phoenix costume.
  • Filming started three days after the release of Philosopher’s Stone. This was to ensure the actors didn’t age too much between films.
  • The hands on the Weasley family’s clock are made out of scissors with photographs stuck into their handles.
  • The second highest grossing film of 2002

More Trivia
Even More Trivia
You Guessed It, More Trivia
Oh Look, Trivia
Totally Not More Trivia (but is actually more trivia)

A lot of the differences not mentioned I found were mainly slight alterations rather than missing entire scenes

  • The scene where gnomes are removed from the Weasley’s yard wasn’t included
  • Sir Nicholas’ Death Day party was excluded
  • The length of time Harry was locked in his room was reduced
  • In the book, Fred and George try to save Harry from the bludger, not Hermione.
  • We never find out Filch is a squib
  • Professor Lockhart’s Valentine’s Day breakfast never makes it into the film.
  • Professor Binns and Peeves are again excluded.

More changes
Further Changes

Prisoner Of Azkaban

Fun Facts

  • Opened in the United Kingdom on 31 May 2004 and on 4 June 2004 in the United States.
  • Ian McKellen turned down the role of Dumbledore. Having appeared as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, he said, “I had enough trouble living up to one legend. Two would be too much to hope for.” He also stated it would have been inappropriate to take Richard Harris’ role, as the late actor had called McKellen a “dreadful” actor.
  • To make the Knight Bus appear as if it was zipping through traffic at an extremely high speed, the scenes were filmed with the bus driving at normal speed and the rest of the traffic driving at snail’s pace. The film was advanced though the camera at a slower rate than it would eventually advance on screen. When the scene was played back at normal speed, the bus appears to be driving super-fast.
  • Harry Melling had lost so much weight that the role of Dudley was almost recast. Eventually it was decided that Melling would continue to play Dudley and would wear a fat suit to make him look heavier.
  • The symbols under Sirius Black’s picture on the Wanted Poster translate as “more or less human.”
  • When Alfonso Cuarón became Prisoner of Azkaban‘s director, he asked Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint to write essays on their characters. Radcliffe wrote a page, Watson wrote 10, and Grint never managed to hand one in.
  • Cuarón had the idea to have Harry, Ron, and Hermione wear everyday clothes more often than their Hogwarts uniforms in order to show more of the characters’ personalities.
  • Dudley Dursley has no lines. He only laughs at the television, and gives two gasps of surprise.
  • Two Persian red cats were used for the role of Crookshanks: Crackerjack and Pumpkin. The trainers saved the cats’ shed fur, rolled it into balls, and clipped these onto the cats in order to achieve Crookshanks’s mangy appearance.

More trivia
Even more trivia

The complex plot of the book meant a looser adaptation was required of backstory and lesser plot lines

  • Harry uses his wand to read under the covers not a torch (my pet peeve)
  • The in-depth detail about the Marauder’s Map and its creators isn’t explored
  • You never find out how Sirius escaped Azkaban or how he betrayed the Potters
  • Harry received his Firebolt at the end of the film, not at Christmas
  • Many scenes are cut where they’re in class as were the other Quidditch matches
  • Malfoy and co. don’t dress up at Dementers to frighten Harry
  • When Harry and Hermione travel back through time they have to get themselves to leave Hagrid’s hut
  • Harry is not caught by Malfoy at Hogsmeade and interrogated by Snape about the map, instead he is caught at night.
  • The three weeks Harry is at the Leaky Cauldron before starting school aren’t shown

More changes
Further Changes


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