Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Inside ''Harry 3'': The scary new world of ''Azkaban''

Here’s how the helmer of ”Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” breathed new life into the franchise and helped his young wizards through their toughest spell yet: adolescence

Posted on

Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, ...
Harry Potter Cast Photograph by Matthias Clamer

”Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s third Potter novel, marks something of a franchise makeover, due mostly to new director Alfonso Cuarón, who auteured the randy coming-of-age Mexican import ”Y Tu Mamá También. Gone is franchise founding father Chris Columbus, brain-fried after the back-to-back shoots of the ”Potter” movies ”Sorcerer’s Stone” and ”Chamber of Secrets.” ”I was crispy,” says the director, king of such warm-fuzzies as ”Mrs. Doubtfire” and ”Stepmom.” ”I was done.” Columbus’ legacy: two movies that grossed $967 million and $866 million worldwide, respectively, yet were tarred by critics for being slavishly beholden to Rowling’s novels.

Mucking with a proven hitmaking potion might seem reckless, especially with a reported budget upward of $130 million to recoup. So why change? Well, the source material practically demands it. ”Azkaban” introduces adolescence — awkward, angry, hormonally charged — into the thematic mix, plus new dimensions of darkness (like the soul-sucking Dementors, the Azkaban prison guards searching for escaped killer Sirius Black, who in turn is searching for…someone) and narrative sophistication (like a looping, time-travel climax).