Ultimate Year in Review: 2002–2004
For MuggleNet’s 20th anniversary, we are looking back at the past 20 years in Harry Potter history to bring attention back to its most significant moments. This is a series of articles that will run over four months. Our first article covered the years 1999–2001.
This week, the Time-Turner takes us all the way back to the years 2002–2004, years that saw the Lord of the Rings trilogy win big at the Academy Awards, Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man come to life, Apple’s launch of iTunes, and George W. Bush’s reelection as United States President.
In news surrounding Rowling, the Harry Potter franchise, and MuggleNet, 2002–2004 were years with many new projects being released.
In November 2002, the second film adaptation of the Harry Potter book series was released: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It saw director Chris Columbus reprise his role and introduced many new characters to fans while Harry, Ron, and Hermione try to solve the mystery of who opened the Chamber of Secrets. With the first film bringing to life dragons and trolls, this second film introduced fans to house-elves, phoenixes, Acromantulas, and basilisks. We also got introduced to Harry’s go-to spell: “Expelliarmus!”
Work on the third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, started in February 2003. After Columbus announced he would not come back to direct this adaptation, the rumors started that Steven Spielberg or Kenneth Branagh might take over. More rumors spiked up when it was announced that Richard Harris, who had played Albus Dumbledore in the first two movies, had passed. Before it was confirmed that Sir Michael Gambon had been cast to play Dumbledore, actors like Sir Ian McKellen had been brought up frequently for the role. McKellen would later confirm that he had been asked but had turned down the role due to the late Richard Harris remarking that he thought McKellen was passionless. McKellen commented, “I couldn’t take over the part from an actor who I’d known didn’t approve of me.”
June 21, 2003, marked the end of the three-year drought of no new Potter books when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was published. It being the longest book in the series, Rowling has stated that she would go back and edit down the book further if she could, saying that it is “too long.” She also revealed that she had planned on killing Arthur Weasley, but he received a reprieve for various reasons and instead is badly injured in the book.
In March 2004, Rowling answered fan questions for a World Book Day chat, including her approach to writing the series, specific characters’ futures, the film series and her involvement, and how she dealt with critics.
Sometimes I agree with the criticism, though I can’t say that’s fun. It also depends who it is. There’s a vast difference between being criticized by someone you really admire (which has happened) and someone who you don’t admire at all (which doesn’t hurt)!
A paper on the popular book character entitled “’Harry Potter’: The New Prozac” explained how Harry Potter helps counsel young readers about depression and anxiety:
It highlights how the third book in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, makes understanding depression simple for kids through the characters, the [D]ementors and boggarts.
On May 15, 2004, J.K. Rowling launched her official website, which could be found under jkrowling.com. Aside from the many hidden gems, Rowling shared insights into her life as an author, answering fan questions and bestowing fansite awards. MuggleNet, the “little site that could,” became a powerhouse in the fandom in 2004 when Rowling stated on her website, “It’s high time I paid homage to the mighty MuggleNet.”
She also revealed on her website that she had visited the MuggleNet forum before, finding it a bizarre place:
A few weeks ago I did something I’ve never done before and took a stroll into a ‘Harry Potter’ chat room: specifically, MuggleNet’s chat room. Although I was concerned to find that many of the moderators feel their spiritual home is Slytherin, this is a great site. Nobody was remotely interested in my theories about what’s going to happen in book seven, though. In the end, I gave up trying to impart any gems of wisdom and joined in the discussion about SpongeBob SquarePants (don’t ask).
I would like to take this opportunity to say that the practise of calling Lord Voldemort ‘Voldie’ must stop, as must the insistence that with a bit of therapy ‘Voldie’ would be a real sweetheart.
I might drop in again some time to check that you’ve done as you’ve been told. Look out for ‘Squidward’.
In May 2004, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released. MuggleNet’s Emerson Spartz covered the red carpet premiere in New York City. He interviewed director Alfonso Cuarón and actors Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), and Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid). The three producers, David Heyman, Chris Columbus, and Mark Radcliffe, were interviewed the following day.
In June 2004, work on the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire started.