Harry Potter Director Confirms Initial Cut of Debut Film Was Nearly 3 Hours Long

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first film in the massive Harry Potter movie franchise, is by no means a short movie. The fourth longest of all eight of the films, the story clocks in at a beefy 152 minutes -- over two and a half hours. It's a substantial length for a film based off of a children's novel, but it turns out that the original, first cut of the film was even longer coming in at 172 minutes -- nearly three hours.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone director Chris Columbus recently told Collider (via Screen Rant) that even at nearly three hours, the film was a hit with kids and it was the parents who screened that version who thought it was just too long.

"By the time we finished the film and we screened it in Chicago -- it's good luck for us to screen our films in Chicago, so back in the day when we could go to a movie theater we would fly to Chicago and show films to an audience -- the audience loved it. The audience just ate up the film," Columbus said. "The film was two hours and fifty minutes long at that point and the kids thought it was too short and the parents thought it was too long."

As for what happened to the additional minutes that didn't make it to the theatrical cut, an extended version was released on Blu-ray adding an extra seven minutes to the runtime, but the rest of the deleted material is available in special features on the Blu-ray and DVD releases of the film.

And as we noted, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone wasn't even the longest movie in the franchise by the time it was all over. That distinction actually goes to the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets which was released in 2002. That film was also directed by Columbus who said that he started to relax about filming Chamber of Secrets following the success of the first one.

"So, I started to feel a little relief, and then when the first movie opened well I had so much more fun on Chamber of Secrets. It was like night and day, because then I could really let loose a little bit and bring a little bit more of my particular style to the movie," Columbus said. "That was a very specific choice, the style of the first Potter movie, but part of it we were boxed into because as I said we had three cameras on the kids at a time. They were brand new, they had never been on movie sets, so they would say a line and they would look into the camera and smile. The first week they were just so delighted that they were in Harry Potter, it meant the world to them, so they would just be smiling like they were in a trance. So that was something we had to overcome as well."

Ultimately, the first two films in the franchise were the only ones Columbus directed. Alfonso Cuaron took over for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Mike Newell directed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and then David Yates completed the rest of the series and while Columbus said he would have loved to have returned, he was pleased with how Yates handled things.


"I always wanted to go back and shoot the final two movies, but Yates decided he was gonna stay with the series, and it was a great thing to do because I particularly love the very last movie," he said. "I think that is just a brilliant film, the second part of Deathly Hallows."

What do you think about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's massive initial runtime? Let us know in the comments.