Steven Spielberg Didn’t Direct ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ for 1 Reason: ‘My Kids Thought I Was Crazy’

Steven Spielberg is behind multiple movie franchises. He brought Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones to the big screen. The famed filmmaker almost had another massive hit on his hands: the Harry Potter movies. He signed on to direct the first Harry Potter movie but ultimately backed out of the project. 

Steven Spielberg developed ‘Harry Potter’ for months

Steven Spielberg speaks onstage at the opening ceremony of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Steven Spielberg at the opening ceremony of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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By the time Harry Potter was on its way to the big screen, J.K. Rowling’s book series had become a worldwide sensation. Muggles everywhere were reading about The Boy Who Lived and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named aka Voldemort. 

Spielberg signed on as director and spent several months working on the film, he told BBC Breakfast in 2012. But ultimately he decided Hogwarts and the wizarding world of Harry Potter wasn’t the place for him. 

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He backed out of ‘Harry Potter’ because he ‘wasn’t ready’ 

Spielberg decided to stick to the muggle world. He backed out of Harry Potter despite surprise from those around him, including his own children.

“I just felt that I wasn’t ready to make an all-kids movie and my kids thought I was crazy,” he said. “And the books were by that time popular, so when I dropped out, I knew it was going to be a phenomenon.”

Harry Potter is now one of the most successful film franchises ever. The eight films that make up the franchise earned a whopping $2.39 billion dollars. 

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But the potential success of the film didn’t matter to Spielberg. At the time he was more concerned with the time commitment that Harry Potter would entail. 

“[I] don’t make movies because they’re gonna be phenomenons. I make movies because they have to touch me in a way that really commits me to a year, two years, three years of work,” he said.

Instead of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Spielberg directed 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence. The film received positive reviews and landed a few award nominations but it didn’t achieve the same commercial success as Harry Potter

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Chris Columbus replaced Steven Spielberg as ‘Harry Potter’ director 

When Spielberg dropped out of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the studio needed to find another director. They landed on another big name in Hollywood, Chris Columbus.

Daniel Radcliffe and Chris Columbus
Daniel Radcliffe and Chris Columbus | Stefan Rousseau – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

The now-62-year-old filmmaker is responsible for some major hits. Columbus directed Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He’s also behind Robin Williams’ beloved family comedy, Mrs. Doubtfire

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit theaters on Nov. 14, 2001. According to Box Office Mojo, the film made $974 million worldwide during its original release. Columbus went on to direct the second installment in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in 2002.

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