A&E // 2008 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // June 28th, 2009
"More people will have probably heard of Harry Potter than any other single person outside of religious leaders." -- Film critic, Alan Park
Harry Potter. Perhaps you've heard of him? He's one of the world's most instantly recognizable literary characters. It was a daunting task to translate that success into not one, but seven potentially successful films. The novels have been translated into 60 different languages and credited by many educators with a renewed enthusiasm for reading in children of all ages. The series has sold more than 325 million books (oh wait, there's another few thousand...and there's another...) to date.
With Hollywood's radar buzzing over the solid-gold potential of a Potter film franchise, it took just six months after the release of the first book for Warner Bros. to secure the movie rights to the first four books for a cool $4 million. Given the worldwide love for the books, there were some serious concerns from fans about bringing the stories to the screen. How could anyone possibly write screenplays close to the scope of the novels, without resulting in seriously flawed final product? Even more concerning was the question of casting. Who would play Harry? This began one of the greatest talent searches in film history, as the production team scoured the globe, testing more than 40,000 young actors for the three lead roles.
At just 11 years old, with very little acting experience between them, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint were chosen to play three of the most coveted film roles in history. Despite the excitement of being chosen, the young stars must also have felt no small amount of pressure, as the weight of a hugely popular franchise rested on their prepubescent shoulders.
Harry Potter Kids delivers a fairly quick behind-the-scenes look at the development of the internationally acclaimed series into one of the most popular and lucrative film franchises of all time, from the early success of the books, to the casting process, and brief personal bios on Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint. Viewers get a clear sense of the Harry Potter phenomenon and the incredible likelihood the series will finish on a high note -- both critically and fiscally -- when it all comes to a close when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II hits theaters in July 2011.
The first five films have generated more than $4 billion at the box office, making author J.K. Rowling a very wealthy lady with an estimated fortune of $1 billion. Harry Potter Kids delivers a solid audio/visual presentation likely please both causal and die-hard fans alike. However, a disappointing absence of extra features makes it hard to recommend for purchase. For devoted fans, this brief documentary won't likely offer anything new. For anyone who'd like a quick look behind the curtain at translating an epic book series into a successful film franchise, this release has you covered.
Get on your brooms and ride!
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* J.K. Rowling official site
* Harry Potter official site