On this day in 2007, the seventh and final Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is released, with an initial print run of 12 million copies in the United States alone. Like each of the previous Harry Potter novels, Deathly Hallows was slated to be made into a major Hollywood film.
The bespectacled boy wizard Harry Potter is the brainchild of the British author J.K. Rowling, who was born July 31, 1965. Rowling’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, debuted in Britain in 1997 (it was retitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when it was released in America the next year) and went on to become an international bestseller. Children and adults alike were captivated by Harry, his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger and their adventures at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The books, which chronicled Harry’s struggles against his enemy, the evil Lord Voldemort, have sold over 400 million copies and been translated into more than 60 languages. The series is also credited with boosting childhood literacy around the globe.
Spawning a series of blockbuster films, video games and other merchandise, the Harry Potter series transformed J.K. Rowling, a broke single mother when she penned the first book, into the highest-earning author in history. The first movie in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, opened in America on November 16, 2001. Directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire), the film starred British actor Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Rupert Grint as Ron and Emma Watson in the role of Hermione. Columbus also directed the second film in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which premiered in the United States on November 14, 2002.
The Mexican director Alfonso Cuaran (Y tu mama tambien) helmed the third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which opened in America on June 4, 2004. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was directed by Mike Newell, the first Brit to helm the series, and released in the United States on November 18, 2005. The fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was directed by David Yates and opened in America on July 11, 2007. Yates also directed the next film in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2008) and is scheduled to helm the adaptation of the final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is planned as two separate films.