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Chris Columbus Dishes On His Biggest Challenge Shooting Harry Potter

The early 2000s were a great time to go to the movies. Not only were the "Star Wars" prequels coming down the pipeline and Marvel Comics adaptations beginning to pick up steam, but the fantasy genre was getting some much-deserved love. Director Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was a standout effort from this era, but it certainly aimed more at adult audiences as opposed to kids. Thankfully, that's where the "Harry Potter" films stepped in, supplying young moviegoers with mischief, mayhem, and magic that would stick with them for years to come.

The inaugural "Harry Potter" book, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," arrived in 1997, captivating readers across the globe and earning its place as a print hit. It should come as no surprise that plans were already in place by the turn of the century to adapt it for the big screen, with Warner Bros. making it all happen. Hollywood icons like Robbie Coltrane, Dame Maggie Smith, and the late Alan Rickman, as well as aspiring thespians Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, among others, joined the cast list, and the 2001 project took the title "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

Director Chris Columbus helmed the first two "Harry Potter" entries, which did so well that they launched an extensive franchise set in the Wizarding World. However, it wasn't smooth sailing from the start, with Columbus admitting that a certain "Harry Potter" sequence proved more challenging to figure out than expected.

Quidditch scenes were difficult to get right

It's worth pointing out that when Chris Columbus first stepped onto the "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" set, he was far from an inexperienced filmmaker. After lending a hand on productions like "Gremlins" and "The Goonies," his directorial debut came in 1987 with "Adventures in Babysitting." These experiences afforded him the chance to spearhead the first two "Home Alone" films as well as the Robin Williams favorite, "Mrs. Doubtfire." That's just a sample of his impressive filmography, and though none of these titles were likely easy to put together, they at least didn't adhere to strict, confusing lore like "Harry Potter."

To celebrate the enduring legacy of the "Harry Potter" series, Chris Columbus took part in HBO Max's "Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts" special. He explains that he had a great degree of creative freedom to design Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry how he saw fit, but integrating so many other-worldly elements wasn't so simple. "The hardest scene to shoot was Quidditch, and the audience had to understand the rules immediately," he recalls, mentioning that "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling had to supply the team with a Quidditch guide so they could follow the rules and design the pitch properly.

The Quidditch scenes throughout the "Harry Potter" saga are among some of the most thrilling to watch. Suffice to say, Chris Columbus and his crew's extensive research into the fictional sport more than paid off.