Friday, December 10, 2010

Harry Potter Movies - Why Are They So Successful?

Harry Potter image
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.

Explore our Review Maze to read other movie articles.


Anonymous said...

Its because 99 percent of those seeing the movies read the books before hand and so know what is supposed to happen in the segments that are missing from the films.

I disliked the 3rd and 4th films as they murdered some of the essential scenes. The scene in the Shrieking Shack is somewhere around three or four lengthy chapters in the book, and they whittled it down to five minutes.

In spite of that, I do enjoy the films.

Flynn 24

John Moscow said...

Thanks for your comment!
I haven't read the books that's why I cannot speak for them... I liked the 3rd and the 4th Harry Potter movies more than the others based just on the films themselves.

Anonymous said...

i find the exact opposite to be true. harry Potter is Superior to the Star Wars Trilogy.

John Moscow said...

"i find the exact opposite to be true. harry Potter is Superior to the Star Wars Trilogy."

I suppose, you're not alone. Probably, there are 8 more people thinking like you. :)

Anonymous said...

While I can't answer this question from every Harry Potter fans point of view, I think I can give some insight in to why the series has the following it does. As someone already mentioned, the books do have a huge following that continue to see the films when they're released. Although there are other book series that are popular, I don't think any of them of them have garnered the hype or sales of the Harry Potter series which has broken countless records upon midnight book releases and has sold over 400 million copies. That alone gives Potter a leg up on the competition.

One reason why I enjoy this series is because of all the planning and detail that went into the world and characters. Granted this is more obvious while reading the books, but you can get a sense of it while watching the movies. Characters and objects that are briefly mentioned or referred to in the first couple of books start to pop up later in the series. This makes rereading the books a lot of fun. Sirius Black is mentioned in the 1st chapter of Philosophers Stone because Hagrid borrowed his flying motor bike. Gellert Grindelwald is mentioned in the 1st book as well as the wizard Dumbledore defeated. It's not until Deathly Hallows that we learn the history between the 2. Horcruxes were mentioned as throwaway objects in Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince to return later in Deathly Hallows. I could go on and on, but then I'd be here all day. lol

Another draw to the series is the characters and the fact that they grow up in the series. Each book contains 1 year of their lives. Children who read or watched the series as they were released got to grow up with the characters as they related to certain aspects of their lives like school, bullies and frustration with the opposite sex. Also with the growth of the characters, the series itself progressed and started to become darker. This helped keep the fan base interested in these fantasy tales as they were growing up.

It also helps to have a wide variety of interesting characters to progress the story. You have the twins who are witty, Dumbledore who is old and wise (yet flawed), Snape who is mysterous, Ron who is amusing yet insecure, Luna who believes things on faith alone and disregards others opinions of her, Neville who we see grow from this clumsy insecure boy to this incredibly brave and noble young man, and Draco (a bully thorugh out the majority of the series) who was raised by a cold hard Death Eater destined to follow his fathers path yet has a change of heart once confronted with the actuality of the situations.

These I feel are many draws to the series and might be what appeals to other viewers of the movies as well.

I feel th

Anonymous said...

You're out of touch. I am bored to tears whenever I sit down and try and watch a Star Wars movie, but I love Harry Potter and could write you pages on what I think the books and movies do effectively.

John Moscow said...

"You're out of touch. I am bored to tears whenever I sit down and try and watch a Star Wars movie, but I love Harry Potter and could write you pages on what I think the books and movies do effectively."

You're welcome to write pages about Harry Potter. It will also help to stop crying about Star Wars so often - it seems you try and watch them quite too often.

Post a Comment