As ''Chamber of Secrets'' opens, questions loom about what the departure of the series' director and the death of a costar might mean for the lucrative franchise -- an excerpt from Entertainment Weekly's Nov. 22, 2002, cover story
Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Credit: Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets: Peter Mountain

If the Harry Potter movie series — continuing with the opening of ”Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” on Nov. 15 — started out as a sure thing, the future suddenly looks a little more fraught with peril. Take the kids: They’re still evolving as actors. They’re mercurial. And — pity the poor editor — they grow at ridiculous rates.

Then there are the books, which have gotten scarier with each installment, raising the very real possibility that the littlest of fans may be aged out of the movies. Throw in the departure of Chris Columbus (the well-liked director who started it all), the death of a critical cast member, and the lack of a new book to fire the franchise — and it turns out that the ”Potter” movie machine may not be so well oiled.

Just to recap, this all got started in 1998, just before J.K. Rowling’s novels about a pint-size wizard became the publishing phenomenon of the decade, when producer David Heyman and Warner Bros. (which, like Entertainment Weekly, is owned by AOL Time Warner) optioned the series. Steve Kloves (”Wonder Boys”) was picked to pen the screenplays, and Chris Columbus (”Home Alone,” ”Mrs. Doubtfire”) won out over the likes of Terry Gilliam, Rob Reiner, and Ivan Reitman to direct the first two installments. The rest is (very profitable) history.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Movie
  • 161 minutes