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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (released in the United States and India as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) is a fantasy/adventure film based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. Directed by Chris Columbus, it is the first in the popular Harry Potter films series. The story follows Harry Potter, a boy who discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is a wizard, and is sent to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to begin his magical education. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, alongside Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry's best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The adult cast features Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman and Ian Hart.

Warner Bros. bought the film rights to the book in 1999. Production began in 2000, with Columbus being chosen from a short list of directors to create the film. Rowling insisted that the entire cast be Britishmarker or Irish, in keeping with the cultural integrity of the book and the film. Rowling also approved the screenplay, written by Steve Kloves. The film shot primarily at Leavesden Film Studiosmarker, as well as historic buildings around the country, and was released in the United Kingdom and the United States in November 2001. Along with mostly positive critical reception, it made in excess of $976 million at the worldwide box office, received three Academy Award nominations and is the fifth highest-grossing film of all-time.


Harry Potter is a seemingly ordinary eleven-year-old boy, living with his negligent relatives, the Dursleys. On his eleventh birthday, Harry learns from a mysterious stranger, Rubeus Hagrid, that he is actually a wizard, famous in the Wizarding World for surviving an attack by the evil Lord Voldemort when Harry was only one year old. Voldemort killed Harry's parents, but his attack on Harry rebounded, leaving only a lightning-bolt scar on Harry's forehead and rendering Voldemort powerless. Hagrid reveals to Harry that he has been invited to begin attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry defies his aunt and uncle and attends Hogwarts where he begins to learn magic and make new friends, as well as enemies, among the Hogwarts students and staff. Voldemort has been near death, and in hiding, since the attack on Harry ten years earlier, but a plot is brewing for the Dark Lord to regain his power and strength through the acquisition of a philosopher's stone, which grants immortality to its owner. Harry and his friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, discover the plot and seek to prevent the theft of the stone, which is hidden in a protected chamber at Hogwarts. The three friends suspect Professor Snape, a teacher whom for unknown reasons despises Harry. The culprit is actually the seemingly cowardly teacher, Professor Quirrell, who is acting on Voldemort's orders. Harry manages to defeat Quirrell, and the stone is forever destroyed by Albus Dumbledore and Nicholas Flamel, crushing the chance of Voldemort returning to power.


Rowling personally insisted that the cast be kept British. Susie Figgis was appointed as casting director, working with both Columbus and Rowling in auditioning the lead roles of Harry, Ron and Hermione. Open casting calls were held for the main three roles, with only British children being considered. The principal auditions took place in three parts, with those auditioning having to read a page from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, then if called back, they had to improvise a scene of the students' arrival at Hogwarts, they were then given several pages from the script to read in front of Columbus. Scenes from Columbus's script for the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes were also used in auditions. On 11 July 2000 Figgis left production, complaining that Columbus did not consider any of the thousands of children they had auditioned "worthy". On 8 August 2000 the virtually unknown Daniel Radcliffe and newcomers Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were selected from thousands of auditioning children to play the roles of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, respectively.

  • Daniel Radcliffe stars as Harry Potter, a seemingly normal child with a lightning shaped scar on his forehead and an ability to make strange things happen. His aunt and uncle, following the death of his parents, about whom he knows very little, raised him from the age of one. On his eleventh birthday, Harry discovers that he is a wizard and attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Columbus had wanted Radcliffe for the role since he saw him in the BBC's production of David Copperfield, before the open casting sessions had taken place, but had been told by Figgis that Radcliffe's protective parents would not allow their son to take the part. Columbus explained that his persistence in giving Radcliffe the role was responsible for Figgis's resignation. Radcliffe was asked to audition in 2000, when Heyman and Kloves met him and his parents at a production of Stones in His Pockets in London. Heyman and Columbus successfully managed to convince Radcliffe's parents that their son would be protected from media intrusion, and they agreed to let him play Harry. Rowling approved of Radcliffe's casting, stating that "having seen [his] screen test I don't think Chris Columbus could have found a better Harry." Radcliffe was reportedly paid £1 million for the film, although he felt the fee was not "that important". William Moseley, who was later cast as Peter Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia series, also auditioned for the role.
  • Rupert Grint plays Ron Weasley, a red-haired wizarding boy, the youngest boy of seven children from a disadvantaged family, who develops a long standing friendship with Harry. At thirteen years old, Grint was the oldest actor of the trio. He decided he would be perfect for the part "because [he has got] ginger hair," and was a fan of the series. Having seen a Newsround report about the open casting he sent in a video of himself rapping about how he wished to receive the part. His attempt was successful as the casting team asked for a meeting with him.
  • Emma Watson plays Hermione Granger, an extremely intelligent witch who was "Muggle-born" who, despite initially irritating them, becomes friends with Harry and Ron after the pair save her from a troll. Impressed with her school play performances, Watson's Oxfordmarker theatre teacher passed her name on to the casting agents. Watson took her audition seriously, but "never really thought [she] had any chance of getting the role." The producers were impressed by Watson's self-confidence and she outperformed the thousands of other girls who had applied. Rowling was supportive of Watson from her first screen test.
  • Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts and one of the most famous and powerful wizards of all time. He decides that Harry should stay with his aunt and uncle following the death of his parents at the hands of Lord Voldemort. Harris initially rejected the role of Dumbledore, only to reverse his decision after his granddaughter stated she would never speak to him again if he did not take it.
  • Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid, a half-giant and the Groundskeeper at Hogwarts. He takes Harry to Privet Drive on a flying motorcycle, and then takes him from his aunt and uncle on his eleventh birthday, after which the two develop a strong bond. He has a fondness for magical creatures. Coltrane was Rowling's first choice for the part. Coltrane, who was already a fan of the books, prepared for the role by talking with Rowling about Hagrid's past and future.
  • Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, the Potions Master and head of Slytherin House at Hogwarts. He dislikes Harry due to a grudge he held with Harry's father. He was formerly a Death Eater but is trusted by Dumbledore. Tim Roth was interested in the role because his children were fans of the books, but ultimately a busy schedule meant he chose to film Planet of the Apes instead.
  • Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, the Deputy Headmistress, head of Gryffindor and Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts. She accompanies Dumbledore to Number 4 Privet Drive when Harry is taken to his aunt and uncle and has the ability to transform into a tabby cat. Smith was Rowling's personal choice for the part.
  • Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, a wizard from a rich background. After Harry rejects his initial offer of "friendship", Draco develops an ever-lasting hatred of Harry and his friends. Along with Radcliffe, Felton was the only one of the main group of child actors to have previous on-screen acting experience.
  • Ian Hart as Professor Quirrell, the slightly nervous Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. He wears a turban, which harbours the near dead form of Lord Voldemort underneath. David Thewlis auditioned for the part; he would later be cast as Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
  • Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley, Harry's uncle who treats him poorly, only caring for his son Dudley. He does not wish Harry to find out about his identity, and burns every letter Hogwarts sends.
  • Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley, Harry's aunt, who, like Vernon, treats him poorly.
  • Harry Melling as Dudley Dursley, Harry's over-weight, bullying, and spoiled cousin.
  • John Hurt as Mr Ollivander, the owner of Ollivander's, the finest wand producers in the wizarding world. Ollivander possesses the ability to find the perfect wand for any person who needs one, and claims to remember every wand that he has ever sold. He tells Harry that he received his scar from Lord Voldemort.
  • Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom, a timid student who is a friend of Harry, Ron and Hermione. He is the frequent target of Malfoy and his gang.
  • Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick, a small wizard who is the Charms teacher and head of Ravenclaw at Hogwarts.
  • John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick, the ghost of Gryffindor house, his head is partially severed following a botched execution.
  • Julie Walters as Molly Weasley, Ron's caring mother. She shows Harry how to get to Platform 9¾. Before Walters was cast, American actress Rosie O'Donnell held talks with Columbus about playing Mrs. Weasley.
  • Richard Bremmer as Lord Voldemort, the darkest wizard of the age. He was defeated and nearly destroyed, when the killing curse he attempted to use on Harry rebounded and hit him. He was reduced to existing only as part of a host body and searches for the Philosopher's stone and a chance for immortality. Bremmer only plays Voldemort in the flashback scene. During the film's conclusion when he is revealed to Harry, Voldemort's voice and motion capture is provided by Ian Hart.

Rik Mayall was cast in the role of Peeves, having to shout his lines off camera during takes, but the scene ended up being cut from the film.



In 1997, producer David Heyman searched Hollywood for a children's book that could be adapted into a well-received film. He had planned to produce The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones, but his plans fell through. His staff at Heyday Films then suggested Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which Heyman believed was "a cool idea." Heyman pitched the idea to Warner Bros. and the following year, Rowling sold the company the rights to the first four Harry Potter books for a reported £1 million (US$1,982,900). A demand Rowling made was that the principal cast be kept strictly British, nonetheless allowing for the inclusion of Irish actors such as Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and for casting of French and Eastern European actors in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where characters from the book are specified as such. Rowling was hesitant to sell the rights because she "didn't want to give them control over the rest of the story" by selling the rights to the characters, which would have enabled Warner Bros. to make non-author-written sequels.

Although Steven Spielberg initially negotiated to direct the film, he declined the offer. Spielberg reportedly wanted the adaptation to be an animated film, with American actor Haley Joel Osment to provide Harry Potter's voice, or a film incorporated elements from subsequent books as well. Spielberg contended that, in his opinion, there was every expectation of profit in making the film, and that making money would have been like "shooting ducks in a barrel. It's just a slam dunk. It's just like withdrawing a billion dollars and putting it into your personal bank accounts. There's no challenge." In the Rubbish Bin section of her website, Rowling maintains that she has no role in choosing directors for the films and said "Anyone who thinks I could (or would) have 'veto-ed' him [Spielberg] needs their Quick-Quotes Quill serviced." Heyman recalled that Spielberg decided to direct whichever project, out of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, Memoirs of a Geisha or Harry Potter, "came together first," with him opting to direct A.I.

After Spielberg left, talks began with other directors, including: Chris Columbus, Terry Gilliam, Jonathan Demme, Mike Newell, Alan Parker, Wolfgang Petersen, Rob Reiner, Ivan Reitman, Tim Robbins, Brad Silberling, M. Night Shyamalan and Peter Weir. Petersen and Reiner then both pulled out of the running in March 2000, and the choice was narrowed down to Silberling, Columbus, Parker and Gilliam. Rowling's first choice director was Terry Gilliam, but Warner Bros chose Columbus, citing his work on other family films such as Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire as influences for their decision. Columbus pitched his vision of the film for two hours, stating that he wanted the Muggle scenes "to be bleak and dreary," but those set in the wizarding world "to be steeped in color, mood, and detail." He took inspiration from David Lean's adaptations of Great Expectations and Oliver Twist, wishing to use "that sort of darkness, that sort of edge, that quality to the cinematography," taking the colour designs from Oliver! and The Godfather.

"Harry Potter is the kind of timeless literary achievement that comes around once in a lifetime. Since the books have generated such a passionate following across the world, it was important to us to find a director that has an affinity for both children and magic. I can't think of anyone more ideally suited for this job than Chris."
Lorenzo di Bonaventura

Steve Kloves was selected to write the screenplay for the film. He described adapting the book as "tough", as it did not "lend itself to adaptation as well as the next two books." Kloves was sent a selection of synopses of books proposed as film adaptations, which he "almost never read", but Harry Potter jumped out at him. He went out and bought the book, and became an instant fan of the series. When speaking to Warner Bros. he stated that the film had to be British, and had to be true to the characters. Kloves was nervous when he first meet Rowling as he did not want her to think he was going to "[destroy] her baby." Rowling admitted that she "was really ready to hate this Steve Kloves," but recalled her initial meeting with him: "The first time I met him, he said to me, 'You know who my favourite character is?' And I thought, You're gonna say Ron. I know you're gonna say Ron. But he said 'Hermione.' And I just kind of melted." Rowling received a large amount of creative control, being made an executive producer, an arrangement that Columbus did not mind.

Warner Bros. had initially planned to release the film over the 4 July 2001 weekend, making for such a short production window that several proposed directors pulled themselves out of the running. However due to time constraints the date was put back to 16 November 2001.


Store in London was used as the exterior of The Leaky Cauldron

Two British film industry officials requested that the film be shot in the UK, offering their assistance in securing filming locations, the use of Leavesden Film Studiosmarker, as well as changing the UK's child labour laws. Warner Bros. accepted their proposal and filming began in October 2000 at Leavesden Film Studios, and concluded in April 2001, with final work being done in July. Principal photography took place on 2 October 2000 at Goathland railway stationmarker in North Yorkshire. Canterbury Cathedralmarker and Inverailort Castle in Scotland were both touted as possible locations for Hogwarts; Canterbury rejected Warner Bros. offer due to concerns about the film's "pagan" theme. Alnwick Castlemarker and Gloucester Cathedralmarker were eventually selected as the principal filming locations for Hogwarts, with some scenes also being filmed at Harrow Schoolmarker. Other Hogwarts scenes were filmed in Durham Cathedralmarker over a two week period, these included shots of the corridors and filming for some classroom scenes. Oxford Divinity School served as the Hogwarts Hospital Wing, and the Duke Humfrey Library was used as the Hogwarts Library. Filming for Privet Drive took place on Picket Post Close in Bracknell, Berkshiremarker. Filming on the street took two days, with the producers only having planned for one, the delay meant that they had to pay the street's residents more money than they had anticipated. As such, for all of the subsequent film's scenes set in Privet Drive, filming took place on a constructed set in Leavesden Film Studios, which proved to have been cheaper than filming on location. Australia Housemarker in London was selected as the location for Gringotts Bank, whilst Christ Church, Oxfordmarker was the location for the Hogwarts trophy room. London Zoomarker was used as the location for the scene in which Harry accidentally sets a snake on Dudley, with Kings Cross Stationmarker also being used as the book specifies.

Owing to the film's title difference in America and the United Kingdom, all scenes that mention the stone had to be filmed twice, once with the actors saying "philosopher's" and the second with them saying "sorcerer's". The children spent their days filming for four hours and then doing three hours of schoolwork, as well as all developing a fondness for having fake facial injuries added to them by the makeup staff. Radcliffe had to wear green contact lenses as, unlike Harry's, his eyes are blue. In some scenes computer animation was used to paint his eyes green, because of Radcliffe's discomfort.

Design, special effects and music

Judianna Makovsky designed the film's costumes. She re-designed the Quidditch robes, having initially planned to use those shown on the cover of the American book, but deemed them "a mess." As such, she dressed the Quidditch players in "preppie sweaters, 19th century fencing breeches and arm guards." Production designer Stuart Craig built the sets at Leavesden Studios, including Hogwarts Great Hall, basing it on many English cathedrals. Although originally asked to use an existing old street to film the Diagon Alley scenes, Craig decided to build his own set, comprising Tudor, Georgian and Queen Anne architecture.

Columbus originally planned to use both animatronics and CGI animation to create the magical creatures in the film, including Fluffy. Nick Dudman, who worked on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, was given the task of creating the needed prosthetics for the film, with Jim Henson's Creature Shop providing creature effects. John Coppinger stated that the magical creatures that needed to be created for the film had to be designed multiple times. The film features nearly 600 special effects shots, with numerous companies handling different things. Industrial Light & Magic created the face of Lord Voldemort on the back of Quirrell, Rhythm & Hues animated Norbert; and Sony Pictures Imageworks produced the film's Quidditch scenes.

John Williams was selected to compose the film's score. Williams composed the score at his homes in Los Angelesmarker and Tanglewoodmarker before recording it in London in August 2001. One of the main themes is entitled "Hedwig's Theme", Williams retained it for his finished score as "everyone seemed to like it".

Differences from the book

Columbus repeatedly checked with Rowling to make sure he was getting the little details in the film correct. Kloves described the film as being "really faithful" to the book. He added some dialogue, which Rowling approved of. One of the lines originally included had to be removed after Rowling told him that it would directly contradict an event in the then-unreleased Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Even so, as with many book to film transitions, there are differences between the plot of the film and the original source material. The first chapter of the book is from the point of view of Vernon and Petunia Dursley the day before they are given Harry to look after, highlighting how Muggles react to magic. The film scraps this, beginning with Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Hagrid leaving Harry with the Dursleys (Although McGonagall references how she had been watching the Dursleys all day). Next, a month of Harry's summer, including several of Vernon's attempts to escape the constantly arriving Hogwart's letters and his less than pleasant times at Mrs. Figg's, is cut from the film while the boa constrictor from Brazil in the zoo becomes a Burmese Python in the movie. Some conflict between Harry and Draco, including their original first meeting in Madam Malkin's robe shop, is not included. The character of Piers Polkiss is cut and some of Nicolas Flamel's role is changed or cut altogether. Norbert is mentioned to have been taken away by Dumbledore in the film; whilst the book sees Harry and Hermione have to take him by hand to friends of Charlie Weasley. Rowling described the scene as "the one part of the book that she felt [could easily] be changed". As such, the reason for the detention in the Forbidden Forest is also changed. In the novel, Harry and Hermione are put in detention for being caught by Filch when leaving the Astronomy Tower after hours, while in the film, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are put in detention because Malfoy caught them in Hagrid's hut after hours. The Sorting Hat's song is axed, as is Snape's potion riddle task and Quirrell's troll room on the way to the stone. Visual changes included both Aunt Petunia and Dudley being made brunette, and Firenze, who in the book is described as being palomino with light blonde hair, is shown to be dark in the film. Additionally the Quidditch pitch is altered from a traditional stadium to an open field circled by spectator towers.


The first teaser poster for the film was released 30 December 2000, with the first teaser trailer being released via satellite on 29 February 2001 and then debuting in cinemas with See Spot Run. The film's soundtrack was released on 30 October 2001. A video game based on the film was released in 2001 by Electronic Arts for several consoles. Another video game, for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox was released in 2003. Mattel won the rights to produce toys based on the film, to be sold exclusively through Warner Brothers' stores. Hasbro also produced products, including confectionery items based on those from the series. Warner Bros. signed a deal worth US$150 million with Coca-Cola to promote the film, and Lego produced a series of sets based on buildings and scenes from the film, as well as a Lego Creator video game based on the film.



The film received generally positive reviews from critics, garnering a 78% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a score of 64 out of 100 at Metacritic representing "generally favorable reviews". Roger Ebert called Philosopher's Stone "a classic," particularly praising the visual effects used for the Quidditch scenes. Praise which was shared by both The Telegraph and Empire reviewers, with Alan Morrison naming it the "stand-out sequence" of the film. Brian Linder of also gave the film a positive review, comparing it closely to the book and concluding that it "isn't perfect, but for me it's a nice supplement to a book series that I love". Although criticising the final half-hour Jeanne Aufmuth stated that the film would "enchant even the most cynical of moviegoers." The sets, design, cinematography, effects and principal cast were all given praise from Kirk Honeycutt, although he deemed John Williams' score "a great clanging, banging music box that simply will not shut up." Jonathan Foreman recalled that the film was "remarkably faithful," to its literary counterpart as well as "consistently entertaining if overlong adaptation."

Richard Corliss of Time, considered the film a "by the numbers adaptation," criticizing the pace and the "charisma-free" lead actors. CNN s Paul Tatara found that Columbus and Kloves "are so careful to avoid offending anyone by excising a passage from the book, the so-called narrative is more like a jamboree inside Rowling's head." Ed Gonzalez wished that the film had been directed by Tim Burton, finding the cinematography "bland and muggy," and the majority of the film a "solidly dull celebration of dribbling goo."

Box office

The film had its world premiere on 4 November 2001, in Leicester Squaremarker, Londonmarker; with the cinema adapted to have a Hogwarts design. Harry Potter was greatly received at the box office. In the United States it made $33.3 million on its opening day, breaking the single day record previously held by Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. On Saturday, the second day of release, the film increased to $33.5 million breaking the record for biggest single day once again. In total it made $90.3 million during its first weekend, breaking the record for highest opening weekend of all time that was previously held by The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Harry Potter held the record until the following May when Spider-Man made $114.8 million in its opening weekend. Similar results were achieved across the world. In the United Kingdom it broke the record for the highest opening weekend ever, both including and excluding previews, making £16.3 million with and £9.8 million without previews. The film went on to make £66.1 million in the UK alone, making it the highest-grossing film of all-time in the country, until in was broken by Mamma Mia!.

In total, the film earned $974.7 million at the worldwide box office, $317.6 million of that in the U.S. and $657.1 million elsewhere, which made it the second highest grossing film in history at the time, as well as the highest grossing of the year. As of 2008, it is the unadjusted fifth highest-grossing film of all-time, behind Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and The Dark Knight.


The film received three Academy Award nominations: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score for John Williams although it did not win in any category. The film was also nominated for seven BAFTA Awards. These were Best British Film, Best Supporting Actor for Robbie Coltrane, as well as the awards for Best Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup and Hair, Sound and Visual Effects. The film won a Saturn Award for its costumes and was nominated for eight more. It won other awards from the Casting Society of America and the Costume Designers Guild. It was nominated for the AFI Film Award for its special effects and the Art Directors Guild Award for its production design. It received the Broadcast Film Critics Award for Best Live Action Family Film and was nominated for Best Child Performance (for Daniel Radcliffe) and Best Composer (John Williams, also for A.I. Artificial Intelligence).


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