The long-anticipated film version of the first J.K. Rowling novel, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (in the US, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone") was released in the US on November 16, 2001.
Directed by Chris Columbus, the film introduced stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, with Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry's best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
Reviews were glowing. Filmed at a cost of $125 million, the opening weekend box office was more than $90 million, with an ultimate box office take of $974 million at movie theaters during its worldwide run.
Besides its three major child stars, the film also introduced Richard Harris as Professor Albus Dumbledore, Maggie Smith as Professor Minerva McGonagall, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Robbie Coltraine as Rubeus Hagrid, Fiona Shaw and Richard Griffiths as Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon (The Dursleys), Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, and John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander.
As the film opens, orphaned Harry lives in a cupboard under the stars in the home of his uncaring uncle and aunt who seem to want nothing to do with him.
On his 11th birthday, his life changes forever when Hagrid (Robbie Coltraine) from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry pays him a visit -- to reveal that Harry possesses magical powers and has been invited to attend the school.
Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe,
and Rupert Grint as the major stars
in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
At Kings Cross station, Harry takes the train to Hogwarts from Platform 9 3/4, befriending Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and meeting Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), a Muggle-born witch.
Arriving at Hogwarts, Harry enters the wizarding world for the first time, and learns to his surprise that he is well-known to everyone at the school.
In a series of adventures throughout the film (including encounters with a giant troll, and Fluffy, a three-headed dog), the three best friends discover that evil is afoot at the castle school centering around the theft of the Sorcerer's Stone.
Intrigued, they let their curiosity lead them to clues that may eventually solve the mystery. By story's end, Harry learns from Professor Dumbledore (Richard Harris) that the attempted theft of the Sorcerer's Stone involved the evil Voldemort who was responsible for his parents' death, hinting at further battles ahead.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone fun facts:
• Chris Columbus ("Gremlins" "Goonies" and "Mrs. Doubtfire") was chosen to direct the first film on a short list of other Hollywood directors that included Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner.
• Before filming, J. K. Rowling insisted that the entire cast be British or Irish, in keeping with the cultural integrity of the book. She also approved the screenplay, written by Steve Kloves.
• Originally titled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", the book and movie were changed to "Sorcerer's Stone" for American audiences as a clearer presentation of the magical subject matter.
• The film received three Academy Award nominations: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score for John Williams.
Today, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone remains the fifteenth highest-grossing film of all time and the second highest-grossing film in the series behind the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
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