The ‘Harry Potter’ Movies Could Have Been Animated

It’s hard to imagine the Harry Potter movies without Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. The eight films that dominated the early 2000s have made a significant cultural impact and are some of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

Yet, believe it or not, there was serious debate about making it an animated series during the beginning stages of the filming process. And what’s more, Steven Spielberg wanted to direct the Harry Potter series.

'Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince' premiere after party
‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’ premiere after party | Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Steven Spielberg was first in line to want to film the ‘Harry Potter’ movies

Back in the late ’90s, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the name “Harry Potter.” The magical series about witches and wizards won the affections of the entire nation, and it wasn’t long before filmmakers would do just about anything to get their hands on JK Rowling’s masterpiece.

Copies of Harry Potter books stand on display at the Clean Well-Lighted Place For Books
Copies of Harry Potter books stand on display at the Clean Well-Lighted Place For Books | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

One of those filmmakers was Steven Spielberg. He had fallen in love with the story and had met with JK Rowling and producer David Heyman to discuss the film. But in the end, Spielberg dropped out of the project. Why? According to the Jurassic Park director, it’s because it wouldn’t have been challenging enough. Considering the book was already a smash hit, Spielberg believed that the film would be a huge success no matter what.

He said, according to CinemaBlend,

“I purposely didn’t do the Harry Potter movie because, for me, that was 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.”

The ‘Harry Potter’ movies could have been animated

Actors Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe attend a photocall to present the new cast of the Harry Potter Films
Actors Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe attend a photocall to present the new cast of the Harry Potter Films | Dave Hogan/Getty Images

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It’s hard to imagine the Potter films without the iconic cast. The movies have created a number of A-list celebrities and showcase brilliant talent from a great ensemble of British actors. Yet while the film was still in the brainstorming stage, there was a genuine debate of whether or not the movies should be animated.

Furthermore, there was discussion of whether they should combine several of the books together into one large movie. Yet JK Rowling, who was granted a say in the matter, preferred that the films be as loyal to her books as possible. Ultimately, her wish was granted when director Chris Columbus came on board to film the first two movies.

Steven Spielberg planned on making the ‘Harry Potter’ movies into a cartoon

If Spielberg were to direct the Potter films as he had initially planned, he wanted to animate it. Perhaps in the late ’90s/early 2000s, this wouldn’t have been such a terrible idea considering the poor CGI in the first two Potter movies.

According to Warner Bros. studio head Alan Horn, Spielberg said,

“‘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,” said Horn.