Alfonso Cuarón directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a 2004 film starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint and based on the same-named J.K. Rowling book. Steve Kloves wrote the screenplay. The third Harry Potter film, which focused on Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts, was released in 2007.

The 2004 film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which employed IMAX technology for the first time and was shown in IMAX theaters, was the second-highest-grossing film of the year. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards thanks to the enthusiastic reception from both critics and viewers. Daniel Radcliffe discussed a choice made by the decision-makers that changed the franchise completely and his thoughts on the same.

Also read: One Great Mystery of Harry Potter Franchise Debunked: What Happened to Voldemort’s Nose After His Resurrection?

Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Daniel Radcliffe said Alfonso Cuarón replacing Chris Columbus changed the franchise

In an interview with Empire in 2022, actor Daniel Radcliffe was asked about the experience they had on set and filming the movie after Alfonso Cuarón replaced Chris Columbus who had directed the first two movies of the franchise. Radcliffe said,

“They got Alfonso Cuarón to come in and direct the third one. Now, by the standards of modern cinema, that decision just looks very smart and good. At the time, I think we can forget how absolutely left-field that choice seemed, like the guy who’d just done Y Tu Mamá También. But again, it’s one of the decisions that our producer David Heyman made that really shaped the next few years of the series and allowed us to go to a darker place.”

Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint directed by Alfonso Cuarón

The third movie of the franchise is considered one of the best movies in the series and one of the best fantasy movies of all time and the audience really digs the new direction the franchise took with going into the new and darker version of their story. Prisoner of Azkaban also introduced Sirius Black to the audience, who is widely remembered for the terrorizing scenes with Dementors, werewolves, and Hogwarts.

The director had proved that the Harry Potter fans and the cast and crew could handle the darker vision and it went ahead to reshape the franchise’s whole tone, taking a turn from the whimsy of the first two movies.

Also read: Daniel Radcliffe Despised Filming One Key Scene in Harry Potter That Was Loved by Fans

Alfonso Cuarón was not the first choice for the director after Chris Columbus

It was reported that after directing two movies starring Daniel Radcliffe as the lead Chris Columbus declined to return to direct the third movie for which Warner Bros. was looking for a new director to get on board so that they could start production and it was Alfonso Cuarón who got on board.

But Alfonso Cuarón was not the first choice; Guillermo del Toro, who had directed Blade II at the time, was the first choice for the director, replacing Chris Columbus, but del Toro had refused to get on board due to creative differences and instead worked on making Hellboy. Marc Forster was also considered for the seat of the director but he had no desire to work with child actors and even Kenneth Branagh had refused to direct the third movie because he was reluctant to work with his ex-wife Emma Thompson.

Daniel Radcliffe for Prisoner of Azkaban
Alfonso Cuarón was not the first choice for the Prisoner of Azkaban

After struggling, Warner Bros. finally knocked at Alfonso Cuarón’s door, but the director was not aware of the story and felt that maybe he was not the right fit for the movie. Del Toro had convinced him to read the books and accept the job. In 2017, he told Vulture that,

“What happened is one of those magical things. I go to do Harry Potter, and suddenly, the same people who [said no before], they want to green-light [‘Children of Men’].” He added that working on the third movie helped him understand the complexities of British social dynamics.

Also read: “This guy must love comedy and weird things”: Daniel Radcliffe’s Bizarre Movie Choices after Harry Potter is Why He Was Cast in $8M Movie Poised to Become a Cult-Hit

Why did Chris Columbus decline to return for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban?

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2021, the director opened up about his decision not to return as the director for the third part of the movie. He said,

“I was naive. I thought, ‘Oh, I have energy to do all seven of these movies.’ But that wasn’t the case.”

The director had explained that the filming of the movie took about 160 days, which is a long time for a movie to film and the two movies were filmed back to back after they wrapped up Chamber of Secrets. Columbus was exhausted emotionally and physically. He added,

Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter first two movies were directed by Chris Columbus
Chris Columbus shared the schedule had made him exhausted

“I wasn’t seeing my kids, who were young at the time, growing up. I was missing dinners with them. I thought, ‘I can’t do another six, seven, eight years of this. My kids will grow up and I’ll never get to know them.'”

Chris Columbus, who had expressed that he would like to direct the Harry Potter movie now with all the three cast members; Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint in the current time. He however became the producer for the third movie as Alfonso Cuarón directed the movie.

Source: Empire

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