Twenty years ago Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Philosopher’s Stone if you’re feeling really British) and was number one at the box office for weeks. It came out November 14 and raked in $1.007 billion at the box office, with an opening weekend of $90,294,621. The production budget was $125,000,00 and worldwide. To say that the adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s children’s novel was a success is a bit of an understatement.
Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie 81% and their audience score was 82%. Rotten Tomatoes could have given this movie a green splat score and this movie would have still performed, maybe not making 7.7 times the budget, but fans of the books would have showed up to see it.
For the folks who have been hiding under a rock for the last 25 years and missed out on one of the most significant pieces of pop culture, Harry Potter is the story of a boy who finds out he’s a wizard at 11 years-old. He’s orphaned as a child because He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (Voldemort) murders his parents, so Harry is sent off to live with his abusive aunt, uncle, and their spawn. On his eleventh birthday, a giant man named Hagrid tells him he’s a wizard and must attend to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (a magical boarding school/death trap) for education. At Hogwarts, he makes some friends, makes some enemies, gets attacked lightly by a professor who hosts a parasite version of Voldemort and then lives on to fight Voldemort and his powers of evil for 6 more books/7 more movies. Seriously, if you don’t know this story, please reach out to me, I have so many questions. Also there are more spoilers ahead.
I remember the weekend this movie came out, I begged my mom to take my sister and me to go see it. It was all I talked about for a week and I dreamed about seeing this movie. Instead, we went ice skating (very fun, but being the annoying 8 year-old I was at the time, my attention was elsewhere), and I watched a bootleg version of the movie at a family friend’s house. I loved it. This movie launched my love of fantasy books and really put me on a path to reading exponentially more than I had been previously. I would read and reread the Harry Potter books for the next 10 year (after that, I literally had no time to read a book that wasn’t a textbook, but I would binge the Harry Potter movies), and I would go see every following movie in theaters. In high school, I went to a few midnight premiers of the movies with friends, the experience just as special as the first. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is such a special movie to me and I’m excited to share this Remake or Revere journey.
Is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a good movie? Yes, but it’s definitely not the best of the Harry Potter movies. Overall, it’s an okay adaptation of the book, the story moves along quickly, and the visuals are decent. The cast is full of some oldies but goodies like Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, and Richard Harris, and then youngins, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Tom Felton. These four are all off the charts well known, despite Radcliffe doing weird movies like Swiss Army Man (I do not recommend watching this on an international flight), Watson being an activist, Grint an Ed Sheeran look alike in Ed Sheeran music videos, and Felton in The Flash. They’re all babyfaced children in this movie.
Do I think this movie should be remade? Absolutely not. It’s like Lord of the Rings, the movies are made well and there are other stories to adapt from book to screen, so there’s no reason to remake them 20 years later. However, this exercise is about remakes, so let’s dive in.
Shocking probably no one, I don’t know a lot of young British actors and actresses, especially ones in the age range of these roles. The kids picked might be a little older than 10, but they look 10 still (or maybe I’m just old and all kids have started to look the same?).
Harry Potter: Played by Daniel Radcliffe, who at the time had some experience, but was also 10 so there’s only so much experience you can have by that age. By playing Harry Potter, he was launched basically into the stratosphere. He, like Harry Potter, lived in a world where everyone knew his name. Noah Jupe has been in A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place Part II in addition to other television shows and films.
Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint took up the mantel and played the role of best friend to Harry Potter, Ron Weasley. Bleu Landau is my pick here, he’s a little old but still looks so young. And his freckles are peak Ron Weasley! He was in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
Hermione Granger: The books and movies should have been named after Hermione Granger. Both the character and Emma Watson have done the absolute most. Hermione kept the idiots alive throughout the entire series, and Emma Watson is heavily into activism. Not to put too much pressure on the kid who becomes Hermione next. Lilly Aspell who played a young Dianna in Wonder Woman looks like she would be a strong Hermione.
Draco Malfoy: Every school needs a wealthy bully, and Draco Malfoy is that. On the exterior he seems like the privileged, annoyance of a child but you go deeper and see he’s scared and insecure. Do you ever feel bad for him? No. Tom Felton played this role very well, especially as Draco aged and the air of snobbery culminated. Billy Jenkins who has been in The Crown and Holmes & Watson is the pick here. He would need to dye is hair that white blonde, but it’s a low investment to play a character who develops so much like Malfoy (develops into an even crappier, elitist, prejudice character!).
Recasting the adults is challenging in its own way, seeing as every British actress and actor was somehow included in the eight Harry Potter movies. The pool I’m pulling from is small, but now Martin Freeman finally might make it into the Harry Potter world.
Professor McGonagall: Dame Maggie Smith is a perfect McGonagall. To trade a Dame for a Dame, my pick is Judi Dench. I know, it’s not a massive change but she’s another one of the best actresses in British history, so it makes sense that she plays one of the strongest characters in the Harry Potter world.
Professor Dumbledore: No so fun fact, Richard Harris died after the second Harry Potter film and was in fact recast and played by Michael Gambon. In this new version, Jeremy Irons would be my pick because he just has that look of an old, white, British man who is nice but you later realize was up to something the entire time.
Severus Snape: Alan Rickman, RIP, was an exceptional Snape throughout all the movies, the role felt like it was written for him. Snape, while not the actual villain of this book, is a villain. Any adult who feels they can bully a child because of the behavior of the child’s parent is not a good adult, end rant. Benedict Cumberbatch would be my pick here because he has a good face for sneering.
Professor Quirrell: Ian Hart played Professor Quirrell, and the thing about this character is the individual needs to be unsuspecting. The entire movie Harry, Hermione, and Ron want to believe Snape is trying to kill Harry, while it’s actually Quirrell! James McAvoy is a great actor and I think he could make Quirrell a low-key presence with some texture and depth.
Rubeus Hagrid: Robbie Coltrane plays one of the sweetest and critical side characters of the series. Hagrid loves animals like dragons, three headed dogs, and giant spiders because he’s such a soft natured, giant man. I’m going to go a bit off the rails with this one and go with Henry Cavill.
A change I would make in the movie just to help make it feel less formal would include axing the boarding school uniforms. In general, the movie feels more serious than the book did, so lightening it up in the moments outside of the forest and the trials that lead to Voldemort. Many scenes that aren’t in the dark, feel like they’re in the dark when it’s the middle of the day. They’re in a magical castle, light some candles or create artificial light. This story lays the foundation for the remaining movies, which get darker as they go along, so keeping it feeling light is important. Also bring back Peeves!
Once again, I do not think that this movie should be remade, but this would be the folks I’d consider if casting became my calling.