This Friday (July 15), the final "Harry Potter" film, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,"
arrives in theaters and brings to a close one of the most ambitious and
extraordinary achievements in film and publishing history. Below is a timeline
of the franchise's major moments, from the author's completion of the first book
right up to the present day.
July 1995 (approximate):J.K. Rowling, a British single mother
with no steady income at the time and living off state welfare benefits,
completes her first novel -- working mainly in cafes -- about a boy wizard named
July 1996 (approximate): The manuscript is rejected by 12
publishing houses before being bought by a small house named Bloomsbury, which
gives her a 1,500-pound advance. U.S. publisher Scholastic later bids $105,000
for the American rights.
June 1997: "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is
published in the U.K.in an initial run of 1,000 copies. Copies from that first
run now sell for tens of thousands of dollars. Four months later, it wins the
first of many awards for the series.
September 1998: With the second book, "Harry Potter and the
Chamber of Secrets," already published in the U.K. three months earlier,
Scholastic publishes the first one, retitled "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's
Stone," in the U.S. "Chamber of Secrets" arrives in the U.S. in June 1999.
October 1998: Warner Bros. Pictures pays $2 million for the
"Harry Potter" film rights.
September 1999: The third novel, "Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban," is published in the U.S. just three months after its U.K.
July 2000: For the first time, a "Harry Potter" book, "Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire," is published simultaneously in the U.S. and U.K.
It demolishes sales records, selling 3 million copies in the U.S. alone in the
first 48 hours on shelves.
Late 2000: British actor Daniel Radcliffe, 11, is cast as
Harry after a seven-month search. Two unknown child actors, 10-year-old Emma Watson and 11-year-old Rupert Grint, are selected to play
Hermione and Ron.
November 2001: The film version of "Harry Potter and the
Sorcerer's Stone" is released. It makes $90 million in its opening weekend, $317
million total in the U.S., and $975 million worldwide, setting a precedent for
all future "Potter" films.
October 2002: British actor Richard Harris, who played
Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the first two "Potter" movies, dies at
the age of 72. He is replaced in the role by Michael Gambon, who plays
Dumbledore for the rest of the series.
June 2003: After a three-year gap -- the longest ever for
the series -- Rowling finally publishes "Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix." Five million copies fly off the shelves in the first 24 hours it's
July 2005: All those previous sales records? Forget about
'em. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the sixth and penultimate book,
moves nine million copies in its first 24 hours of publication.
November 2005: After a steady decline in box-office revenues
over the course of the first three films, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" turns that
around, earning $290 million in the U.S. and $896 million worldwide. Revenues
continue to climb for each successive film.
July 2007: The final book in the series, "Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows," is published, selling 11 million copies in its first day.
A documentary about J.K. Rowling shows her breaking down in tears while making a
return visit to the tenement where she wrote the first book.
July 2007: The film version of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" arrives in
theaters, with an opening five-day weekend box-office gross of $333 million
worldwide and eventual worldwide box-office gross of $939 million, the
12th-biggest film of all time (unadjusted for inflation).
April 2009: It is officially announced that the final
"Potter" novel, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," will be split into two
films, a prospect that had once been considered for the fourth entry, "Goblet of
Fire." Director David Yates, who had helmed the previous two films, is brought
back to finish out the series.
June 2010: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a
"Potter"-themed amusement park that's part of the larger Universal Studios
Orlando resort and park, opens.
November 2010: "Deathly Hallows: Part 1" is released in theaters
worldwide. Although initially slated to be converted to 3-D, the conversion is
canceled because the producers feel there is not enough time to complete the
process properly. The movie earns $955 million worldwide.
June 2011: J.K. Rowling announces the launch of Pottermore,
a website dedicated to all things "Potter," featuring additional writing by her
and many other features related to the "Potter" universe. It is scheduled to
open on July 31, 2011 (Rowling and Harry's birthday), to the first 1 million
fans who register.
July 2011: The last film, "Deathly Hallows: Part 2," opens
in 2-D and 3-D, with expectations that it could be the first "Potter" film to
make more than $1 billion worldwide. The entire series up to this entry has
grossed $6.4 billion globally -- and that's without adding in DVD sales,
merchandise, and TV revenues. To date, the books have sold over 400 million