Wednesday, 10 November 2010
This isn't really news, but it's an interesting nugget of Steven Spielberg lore that fans may find intriguing.
In the LA Times' extensive coverage of the new Harry Potter film, an article discusses what Steven Spielberg had planned to do if he got the job of turning the books into a movie.
Spielberg being Spielberg, he was the first choice to helm Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ("Sorcerer's Stone" in the USA), the opening film in what Warner Bros hoped would become a lucrative franchise.
The LA Times takes up the story...
Warner Bros. secured the rights for four “Harry Potter” novels for about $2 million. At that point, only the first book was on shelves in England and none had reached America. Warner Bros. tried to get a financial partner on the project, reaching out to studios including Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks, which passed.
Once the books became a sensation, greenlighting the first “Potter” film became a major priority at Warner Bros., where Alan Horn had recently taken over as president and Barry Meyer as chairman (replacing longtime studio chiefs Terry Semel and Bob Daly). DreamWorks circled back and proposed a partnership, but Horn wisely declined. There was one aspect of the DreamWorks talks that did intrigue him, however.
“I did think it would be worthwhile for Steven Spielberg to direct,” Horn said. “We offered it to him. But one of the notions of Dreamworks’ and Steven’s was, ‘Let’s combine a couple of the books, let’s make it animated,’ and that was because of the [visual effects and] Pixar had demonstrated that animated movies could be extremely successful. Because of the wizardry involved, they were very effects-laden. So I don’t blame them. But I did not want to combine the movies, and I wanted it to be live action.”
Spielberg instead took on Warner’s 2001 sci-fi film “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,” and the Hogwarts post fell to Chris Columbus, director of “Home Alone” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” who was then tapped for the job …
The LA Times story seems to suggest that Spielberg's animated take on the books wasn't to Warners' liking to they politely thanked him then started the search for another director. Compare that to quotes Spielberg gave to PageSix.com back in 2001:
"I purposely didn't do the Harry Potter movie because for me, that was shooting ducks in a barrel. It's just a slam dunk. It's just like withdrawing a billion dollars and putting it into your personal bank accounts. There's no challenge."
Whatever the case, I think Warner Bros probably the made the right choice on this one. As much as I love Steven Spielberg, an animated version of the novels sounds pretty terrible to me...