Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Release Date: November 18, 2005

Movie of the Day for Tuesday, March 15, 2005
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To his great  chagrin, Harry had never seen the Alien movies.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
3/166 David Mumpower When we look back at the evolution of CGI effects in cinema, this will be remembered as the gold standard. Goblet of Fire has the most gorgeous set designs I have ever seen.
4/60 Les Winan Continues the excellence of Azkaban. The cast is aging well and improving with each film. A fitting turning point in the series. Bring on the Order of the Phoenix.
14/85 Kim Hollis Magical and captivating, with just a touch of darkness. I still prefer Prisoner of Azkaban, but the fourth film is still terrific.

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When it comes to box office receipts, there are a few agreed upon landmarks that have cemented their presence in Hollywood’s history books. There is of course Jaws, the first ever summer blockbuster, the trendsetter that has helped shape movie release strategy as we know it today. There is also Star Wars, the first film to ever have a rabid fan base. Ten years after Star Wars was released, Batman destroyed box office records and highlighted the importance of a film’s opening weekend. Batman was followed by The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park, which fueled the sequel and franchise craze. In 2002, Spider-Man set the standard for single weekend take and hit a number that will likely not be broken by any film, other than one of its sequels, for a long time to come. More recently, The Passion of the Christ turned the box office world on its head by making back its production budget in one day and bringing in five times its production budget in its first total weekend of release, an unprecedented feat that will likely never be duplicated again. But in between The Lost World and Spider-Man, a film was released that, in its first three days, grossed over 25% more than what any other film had grossed in the same time span. It was the first film to ever make more than $90 million in its first three days; in fact, it was the first ever movie to gross more than $75 million in its first three days. That movie was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Released in 2001, six months before Spider-Man would steal its thunder, the Harry Potter film capitalized on the phenomenon that the books had created. Thanks in large part to a massive media blitz that has been given to only a small handful of films such as the aforementioned Star Wars and The Passion of the Christ, Harry Potter was able to draw on an established fan base to bring in huge bucks. The film went on to gross more than $975 million worldwide and the studio instantaneously greenlighted six sequels, three of which had not seen their source book published yet. Of course, there was still the matter of making a first sequel, a challenge that Warner Bros. met head on.

2002 saw the release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second film in the franchise. With a more brisk and dramatic story, the sequel was better received critically than its predecessor, a movie that was much too faithful to the book. Chamber did not disappoint at the box office either. Doing without the anticipation that fueled the demand for the first film, Chamber did amazing business by opening to over $88 million and grossing almost $870 million worldwide. Warner Bros.' next step for the films was obvious: to see how the movies could do with a summer release.

Of course, putting together a movie isn’t as simple as setting a release date; Warner Bros. had to now hire a director to replace Chris Columbus, the man who helmed the first two films, to direct the third film in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. For that, the studio turned to Alfonso Cuaron, who gained notoriety in Hollywood for directing Y Tu Mama Tambien. The choice seemed natural, for who better to direct a children’s film about teenagers than a man whose last film was a coming-of-age story, albeit a very unconventional one. This made Cuaron a very daring choice, with many fans of the series considering Azkaban to be the best of the series. It made $250 million domestically, a slight dropoff from the other films, but still had an amazing performance given the darker subject matter.

Mike Newell directs Goblet of Fire, which will tell of Harry’s fourth year at the Hogwarts School of Magic. The English-born director exploded onto the Hollywood scene with the surprise hit Four Weddings and a Funeral. His next Hollywood foray was the impeccable and near perfect Donnie Brasco, a film that featured Johnny Depp and Al Pacino in what was his best performance in the last 20 years. His latest feature was 2003’s Mona Lisa Smile, a Julia Roberts movie that didn’t see Julia Roberts-esque box office. Looking at Newell’s full resume, it is easy to see that his strength is storytelling and he will have a challenge on his hands when he tries to squeeze the entire fourth book, which was twice as long as any of its predecessors, into one 150 minute film. The task is so mighty that at one point there was talk of making the book into two separate films. Newell will have to be at the top of his game and if he is, the final product should be very good considering that the fourth book is considered by many to be the best of the bunch.

The Goblet of Fire sees the children at Hogwarts begin to mature and develop all the awkwardness and paranoia that comes with being a teenager. The book lays the groundwork to the teenager rebelling against authority dynamic. At the same time, the book delves deeper into rivalries and the competitive nature of being a teenager while exploring how teenagers first begin to understand the grand scope of life around them. The actual plot of the story centers around the Triwizard tournament, a competition that pits different champions from three different magical schools in an intense competition that tests students’ magical abilities. The three tasks within the competition would normally be performed by three seventh year students, but to everyone’s surprise, The Goblet of Fire, the tool that picks the worthy champions, has decided that in addition to the three seniors, Harry Potter will also be competing. This sets the stage for the return of Lord Voldemort, whom Harry can only deal with through the help of Sirius Black, a man who only last year Harry thought was trying to kill him. In addition to all this, Harry has to deal with love, jealousy, and his two best friends not being on speaking terms. The book ends with a tragic death and sets the stage for even more anxiety in book five.

The foundation is set for a strong and interesting film. Considering how intricate the story is, Newell is a fantastic pick to helm the project, but the film will face many challenges with the age of its audience being the main one. Can this franchise remain strong when the core audience of the book has outgrown it? It is a fact that a 10-year-old that read the first Potter book in 2000 will be 16, at the youngest, when The Goblet of Fire is released, so the question is whether Potter will retain its audience. The answer will likely be yes as the Harry Potter phenomenon extends beyond children. The series of books is a guilty pleasure to many an adult and the book has been able not only to cross generations, but it has also been able to capture more fans as sales numbers for the original books remain high. So while the films might lose a part of the audience, they will continue to bring in new viewers that have recently become fans of the books.

So the Harry Potter juggernaut rolls on. The question now is whether J.K. Rowling will be able to keep up with the pace of the films as they seem to be getting made more quickly than she is writing her books. With the fifth, The Order of the Phoenix, already released and a sixth on its way in Summer of 2005, the race to get to the end might be closer than first thought. Still, Rowling already has the final chapter of the series already written out, literally, so perhaps there is a synchronicity there that is appropriate for a story that is so widely loved and respected. Ultimately, the films so far have proven to be worthy of their source material and have not disappointed Harry Potter fans. They will continue to be successful if they maintain that level of quality. (Walid Habboub/BOP)

Vital statistics for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Main Cast Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Supporting Cast Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Jason Isaacs, Brendan Gleeson, Frances de la Tour, Robert Pattinson, Clemence Poesy, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Pedja Bjelac, Jeff Rawle, David Tennant, Stanislav Ianevski, Katie Leung, Miranda Richardson
Director Mike Newell
Screenwriter Steven Kloves
Distributor Warner Bros.
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site http://www.gobletoffire.com/
Rating PG-13
Running Time 157 minutes
Awards Awards page for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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