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


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

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


Beyond the Novels: Additional Books and Stories

In addition to the seven Potter novels, Rowling has released numerous extra books and stories over the years. These are not new novels, instead they are books that exist in the Harry Potter universe that now exist for us to read. The first was in 2001 when she released Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (a textbook mentioned in Philosopher’s Stone) and Quidditch Through the Ages (a school library book Harry reads) as part of Charity Relief. The next came in 2007 when Rowling hand wrote seven copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard (fairy tales mentioned in Deathly Hallows). It was then published internationally at the end of 2008.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 

In a 2001 interview Rowling stated that she chose the subject of magical creatures because it was a fun topic for which she had already developed a lot of information in earlier books. What was great about it was that it was published to look like one of Harry’s textbooks, complete with Newt’s name as author and even a ‘Property of Harry Potter’ sticker on it. Further editions have changed this, with both names appearing on the cover. An updated version was published earlier this year, with six new creatures added to it, and of course, it was recently turned into a film.

Quidditch Through The Ages

Like Fantastic Beasts, Rowling originally published this book as it would have appeared in the wizarding world, writing under the pseudonym of Kennilworthy Whisp, a renowned expert in the sport. It covers the sport’s origins, the details about each of the balls in play, the evolution of flying brooms, the introduction of the snitch and much more. The copy exists in the series as a library book and the 2001 first edition reflects that with a check out list in the front of characters who’ve borrowed the book.


The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Unlike the other two which were written for charity, originally only seven hand written copies of the book existed. Rowling has stated that the idea of writing the books was to thank six key people who had been very closely connected to the series. She had the idea to write the book, handwritten and illustrated by herself, just for those people. She then decided if she was doing six, she may as well do seven and auction if off for a good cause. The original editions were bound in brown morocco leather, and decorated with hand-chased silver ornaments and mounted semiprecious stones. Looking at pictures of them they are gorgeous, and I am so envious of those seven people.


All three of these books contain extra information about the wizarding world that isn’t in the seven books. But it’s not the only thing Rowling has created that is separate from the novels. While those books were written as in-universe books, Rowling has also written other things that reveal a little bit more about the world.

The Prequel

In 2008 Rowling wrote an 800-word prequel as part of a fundraiser. Rowling adamantly stated she is not writing a prequel, this was merely a good idea to raise money for worthy charities. The original was a handwritten story on a piece of A5 card which was auctioned off for £25 000.The story revolves around James and Sirius when they were teens. It was published online in June that year and can be read here. This original story was stolen earlier this year. The owner has stated that “If it’s destroyed, or if it’s lost, it’s a great loss” and whoever took it or may purchase it may not understand “the benefits to people out there [and] what it can do.” Already this story is expected to be worth £65 000.

The Short Stories

In 2016, three ebooks were released which contained short stories about Hogwarts that Rowling had written. I did not even know about these until I started researching so I am incredibly exited to get these and read them. Presented by Pottermore, these stories came from the Pottermore archives with exclusive new information added. The three ebooks are titled:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (#3) by JK Rowling

Published: 8th July 1999Goodreads badge
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 371
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer.

This is the book where we start to see the books getting longer as more detail is included. This is of course a good thing because with book three so much of the basic wizarding rules have been established and we’re secure in what we know about the world. With this story Rowling really takes advantage of this and takes on such a deep and detailed journey, not only through the expanding wizarding world, but into the past, learning more about the war and more information about Harry’s family.

As always with a Potter book there are surprises and unexpected twists, even now rereading it for the umpteenth time I still get nervous and worried as I read, despite knowing full well what is about to happen. Rowling immerses you so deeply into her world that you feel like you are falling into them as you read, surrounding yourself with the events on the page.

I always love reading about the daily schooling life, something the movies don’t focus on very much which is a shame but understandable. There’s also so much history and backstory revealed, as well as the typical Rowling hints that something is going on but we aren’t sure of what yet, no doubt to be revealed in a later chapter or even book.

There is a great sense of action and thrill through this book, the killer on the loose angle is paced wonderfully, and as I say, the twists Rowling throws in there are enough to keep you reading intently no matter ow many times you’ve read the same words before.

Fun Facts

It is the third longest book at 107,253 words.

First published 8 July 19999

Cover art is by Cliff Wright

Rowling started to write Prisoner of Azkaban the day after she finished Chamber of Secrets.

Sold more than 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of publication, which made it the fastest selling British book of the time

Won the 1999 Booklist Editors’ Choice Award plus numerous others

Most of the reviews were favourable, however one reviewer, Anthony Holden, who said that the characters are “all black-and-white”, and the “story-lines are predictable, the suspense minimal, the sentimentality cloying every page”

An illustrated edition will be released 3 October 2017, with illustrations by Jim Kay

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (#2) by JK Rowling

Published: 2nd July 1998Goodreads badge
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 251
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone, or something, starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?

What I think is good about Harry Potter, is that Rowling manages to add new details and information that lead you in to the next book without you realising. It isn’t until a second or third reading you notice how new bits of information help the story in the following book. The writing is very easy to manage, the books do get longer but the language and writing style is simple but detailed and filled with meaning and substance which just adds to the greatness. This was not one of my favourites initially, there are others that trump it, but it has an immense amount of charm on its own merit. I think certain things like characters swayed my dislike initially, but I think given it’s been so many years since my first reading that they have all grown on me with odd appeal, but it’s still my least favourite overall.

One great thing about it is we get to see more of Hogwarts in this second book, we learn more about character histories, where they began and how they ended up as they are. Everything is being released slowly in trickles which keeps you engaged and give rise to a multitude of additional questions where only a few have been answered. Having knowledge of future books is interesting as you go, but I do remember being very curious as I struggled to try and piece everything together and guess where book three would lead me.

You certainly cannot read these out of order I don’t think, though there is enough basic recap in the first few chapters to warrant a basic understanding if you don’t. By book three I imagine it would be almost impossible to follow, but also I think going in order just adds to the complete world and story Rowling is trying to convey.

Reviewing these after becoming so familiar with them over the years is an odd experience. I know I probably am not doing it as I normally would, but these are only mini reviews and I feel like I am preaching to the choir, though I know people out there haven’t read the series. I think if you enjoyed the movies, the books are a must, there is such a depth and fascination of story and character that Rowling conveys, even in these shorter books, that are just a marvel to experience.

Fun Facts

It is the second shortest book at 85,141 words, but it’s the longest of the films.

First published 2nd July 1998.

Cover art is by Cliff Wright.

The Ford Anglia is actually the same color and model car that Rowling and her best friend from school used to ride around in when they were younger. She used the car for the book out of her fond memories driving in it.

Upon publication it immediately took first place in UK best-seller lists, displacing popular authors such as John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Terry Pratchett, making Rowling the first author to win the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year for two years in succession

Listed among the 2000 Notable Children’s Books by the American Library Association

In 1999, Booklist named Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as one of its Editors’ Choices and put it in its Top Ten Fantasy Novels for Youth.

Shortlisted for the 1998 Guardian Children’s Award and the 1998 Carnegie Award.

Was the inaugural winner of the Children’s Book Award by the Scottish Arts Council in 1999.

An illustrated version was released in October 2016, with illustrations by Jim Kay.

This book has a strong connection with book six, with many crucial items first appearing in it. In fact, Half Blood Prince was the working title of Chamber of Secrets.

The novel implies that the story takes place in 1992/1993

Riddle’s name changes in translations so that an appropriate anagram could be formed, which results in Voldemort being called wonderful names like Martin and Trevor:
In French, his name is Tom Elvis Jedusor, which becomes Je suis Voldemort
In Spanish, his name became Tom Sorvolo Ryddle, which transforms into Soy Lord Voldemort
In Dutch, his name is Marten Asmodom Vilijn, which is an anagram for Mijn naam is Voldemort
In Turkish the name is Tom Marvoldo Riddle, which makes up Adim Lord Voldemort
In Brazilian Portuguese the name is Tom Servolo Riddle, which makes up Eis Lord Voldemort
In Danish, his name is Romeo G. Detlev Jr., which makes up Jeg er Voldemort
In Italian his name is Tom Orvoloson Riddle, which makes up Son io Lord Voldemort
In German his name is Tom Vorlost Riddle, which makes up Ist Lord Voldemort
In Icelandic his name is Trevor Délgome, which makes up Ég er Voldemort
In Swedish his name is Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder, which makes up Ego sum Lord Voldemort (which is actually in Latin)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (#1) by JK Rowling

Published: June 26th 1997Goodreads badge
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 223
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

What Rowling has managed to do from her very first book, is create an entire world, history and character base, but she has also sneakily then refused to divulge any of it. Instead, we get snippets and trickles of information and acts, we learn as Harry learns, but we also get blocked when he does. What Rowling does not want us knowing, what Rowling does not need to tell us, we do not find out. This leads you very eagerly into the sequels I assure you.

What makes Harry as a character so charming is his age I think, but also his innocent naivety and contrasting instinct that he has to help. It’s a weird thing, this 11 year old, who never knew abut magic, the wizarding world, or about the feared He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, yet he still leaps almost instantly into saving it. It is the wonderful courage he has and the deep down sense that he should be doing it and it is his role. We certainly see enough of this reasoning later on.

There are clues hidden throughout, laughs and emotion, always a good combination. But we also get so much more than a basic introduction into a new world, we get enough but not everything, but we also get so much more than you probably ever expected.

The characters are quirky, charming, hilarious, and even the ones you dislike you enjoy reading about. There’s mystery but there’s also exploration of this new wizarding world as Rowling opens the reader up to all the possibilities while not overloading us. It’s the ideal balance of story and information, with more than enough left over to entice us to keep reading, mixed together with seamless precision. As an introduction to a series and a whole complicated world, Rowling has done an impeccable job.

Fun Facts

Written in numerous cafés around Edinburgh, including one called The Elephant House which has a plaque commemorating this.

Is 76 944 words, making it the shortest of the series.

Written between approximately June 1990 and some time in 1995.

First published 26 June 1997 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Cover art was by Thomas Taylor. You can read a fascinating post about him and the cover here.

Called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States because US publisher Scholastic thought that a child wouldn’t buy a book with the word “philosopher” in the title. I mean, really.

The novel won most of the British book awards that were judged by children.

Reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999 and stayed near the top of that list for much of 1999 and 2000.

It has been translated into at least sixty-seven other languages, all of which have gorgeous covers you can see here. (I particularly love the Italian one. Is there a scene where there is a moment with Harry wearing a giant rat hat? I also love the Spanish version because it makes Harry look like a child, unlike the English one where I’ve always thought he looks about 30.)

An illustrated version was released in October 2015, with illustrations by Jim Kay.

Prices for first edition first printings go up to around $6,500 with a selection between $4,000 and $5,000.

A first edition copy containing a rare typo is expected to fetch up to $34,000 at auction.

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