Reimagining the Harry Potter Films

I just read that the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Hollow Medley, will actually be split into two films, making a total of eight:

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” will hit theaters in November 2010, followed by “Part II” in May 2011, a decision that is being met around the world with fans’ cheers but also plenty of cynical smirks. The publishing industry is learning to live without new “Potter” releases, but Hollywood just pulled off a trick that will keep its profitable hero on his broom into the next decade.

Can I get a kerching? Sure, that last book is pretty thick, but book five is actually longer, so I’m confident in chalking this one up to the studio’s desire for an extra $300 million.

The films have gotten better (the childrens’ acting is no longer atrocious). The movies have become entertaining if unremarkable fantasy romps. I do, however, object to the tedious structure that each films follow. It goes something like:

  1. Harry is miserable in London.
  2. Harry has madcap adventures on the way to school.
  3. Harry cheats death, battles nefarious forces and struggles to maintain a B average over the course of the school year.
  4. Harry bids everybody farewell for another summer of misery.

Revise the Story Arc

After seeing the third movie, I decided that the studios should have reached higher.

The movies didn’t have to map exactly to the books. The producers could have taken Harry’s entire story arc and divided it up in a different, more exciting way. There could have been five movies, or nine or twelve. This would have freed screenplay writers from the bonds of the novels’ formal structure. The result probably would have been a far more diverse set of movies.

The natural comparison here is how The Empire Strikes Back is a considerably darker film (thanks largely to its plot) than the other two (well, five) Star Wars movies. The same goes for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Of course, such a move would have come with considerable risk, and might have alienated the films’ core audience. And studios are famous for being risk-averse.

Here’s an idea for a massive fan project. Re-edit the eight movies so that they start and end in different spots. Move some scenes around so that you end with a richer, more diverse set of movies.


  1. While you’re reimagining, can you do some work for the House writers?

    Each episode:

    1) patient with mysterious illness that only House can treat
    2) gathers his students for a brain storming session
    3) they’re wrong, he suggests something and they test it, patient almost dies
    4) they try something else, patient almost dies again
    5) house is required to do clinic duty, some joe off the street with a cold gives him an idea and the patient is saved.

    rinse. repeat next week.

  2. Book Five is long, but for much of the book not a heck of a lot happens. Book Seven crams in more (and more important for the storyline) scenes than any of the previous books. It also (thankfully) gets away from the formula you (so accurately) described.

    Given that the films have been clocking in at 2.5 hours (and even then skipping material), splitting the last one into two parts makes sense — both for the fans and for the studios 🙂

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