Really, what makes the Harry Potter movies and Harry Potter characters so successful? I cannot actually answer that question. While it's quite easy to list a bunch of reasons leading to the Star Wars trilogy success, it is rather difficult for me to find good arguments in support of the Harry Potter series success. Thus, I will express just some of my observations based only on the movies (not on the books) but if somebody knows the secret clue I am overlooking, please share a comment on it.
Of course, although I'm not a fan of Harry Potter's, I can see some of the series' good aspects. The movies easily benefit from the fact that they are based on a very popular book series. This automatically provides the films with a huge fan base even before they have been released (while on the other hand, the books gain new followers inside the moviegoers circles). But there are also other popular books that have not led the corresponding movies to similar success so, there has to be something more about Harry Potter.
The movies have also some spectacular scenes that are nice to watch but at the same time many of exactly those scenes are completely unrelated to the Harry Potter main storyline. In general, the series succeeds to create its own world and it is beautiful on its own. But then again, we are in the 21st century already and such worlds are nothing unseen.
Also, I can understand the appeal of a young magician schoolboy and his friends fighting the bad guys or the appeal of a parallel fantasy world but again, this is not unprecedented stuff.
Many of the nice looking scenes are just there for the purpose of being there. And it's valid not only for the visually good scenes but also for many of the others. I suppose that the greater part of the narrative is coming from the Harry Potter books and maybe the original material is not suitable enough for a movie but if this is the case, then a better option would be to omit or change particular events. I think, in this aspect the Harry Potter series is very much alike the Star Wars prequel trilogy - quite chaotic and unfocused although the principal Harry Potter characters are the same in all of the films.
Another point that bothers me a lot is related to the non-typical narration in the Harry Potter movies. Although the "good" Harry Potter characters fight with something bad or evil in each of the episodes, it is very common for all of the films that there is not real tension in them. Usually the main "battle" in each Harry Potter movie finishes very quickly and is pretty much as routine as every other event happening in the series.
In addition, there are neither lots of funny scenes in the movies, nor there are some interesting love or other subplots to boost the interest in the series. Yet, the Harry Potter franchise is very successful and makes rivers of money. And it is successful internationally. In fact, compared to other movies, Harry Potter is even more popular outside the United States (where the main movie market is). This tendency is obvious if you go to the all-time box office section at IMDb - all of the first 6 Harry Potter movies are in the Top 20 of the All-Time Non-USA Box office (the 7th movie is also heading right there) and on the other hand, none of them is in the Top 20 of the All-Time USA Box office chart. I think there are also reasons for that situation and I'll probably make another post about Harry Potter's and other movies' box office performance in and outside the United States with some analysis in it. (Update: about the latter you may check our USA vs. non-USA highest grossing movies of all time comparison.)
In my personal opinion, the Harry Potter series started with a couple of not very convincing episodes. The 3rd and the 4th movie showed a little bit of improvement in terms of interestingness and entertainment but then again the previous unsatisfying level was reached with the next episodes. Of course, my opinion does not prevent the Harry Potter series to occupy the #1 spot on the highest grossing film series list, at least for the time being.
So, these have been my thoughts about the series and if somebody could share any good reasons explaining why the Harry Potter movies are so big, please do it and bring me out of the darkness.
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