The Best Order to Watch the Harry Potter Films It used to be such an easy task to watch the Harry Potter movies in order, you just watched them in the order that they released. Sure, the last book was broken up into two films, but it still seemed manageable, if a lot to tackle in one day. Given how successful these films were, with the whimsical magic and alternate realities penned by Rowling and brought to life on the silver screen it should be no surprise that more movies would be created to supplement the stories that ended with the second Deathly Hallows film.
The addition of the “Fantastic Beasts” subseries, which takes place during the 1920s and features notable names like a young Dumbledore and Grindelwald, means that there are actually a full 10 films in the canon at this point that cover over seven decades of material and lore. With all of that material to go through, this guide has been penned to give you the optimal viewing order for these films. Furthermore, we’ve even mentioned when to you might want to read through some other materail like “The Cursed Child,” a stage play.
As an aside, it is worth mentioning that three more Fantastic Beast prequels are in various stages of planning or production. While it is known that Dumbledore and Grindelwald have a climatic battle during the year 1945, there is still a lot of material for creatives to play with and to fill in the gaps.
The Full Sequence of Harry Potter Films and Supplementary Media
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This is currently the earliest piece of Harry Potter-related media, occurring in the year 1926.
Year of Release: 2016
- The Crimes of Grindelwald. This second Fantastic Beasts film is aproper sequel, occurring one year after the events of the first film.
Year of Release: 2018
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. We jump from 1927 to the years 1991 and 1992 in Harry’s first story. Note that this installment is only known as “the Sorcerer’s Stone” within the United States due to concerns that American children would not know what a philosopher is.
Year of Release: 2001
- Chamber of Secrets. This film covers Harry’s second year of school at Hogwart’s.
Year of Release: 2002
- Prisoner of Azkaban. This film covers Harry’s third year.
Year of Release: 2004
- Goblet of Fire. This film covers Harry’s fourth year.
Year of Release: 2005
- Order of the Phoenix. This film covers Harry’s fifth year.
Year of Release: 2007
- Half-Blood Prince. This film covers Harry’s six year.
Year of Release: 2009
- The Deathly Hallows, Part 1. This film covers part of Harry’s final year at Hogwart’s.
Year of Release: 2010
- The Deathly Hallows, Part 2. This film covers Harry’s final days at Hogwart’s and contains an epilogue scene where the characters we grew up with are sending their own kids off to Hogwarts to begin their educations about the Wizarding World.
Year of Release: 2011
- The Cursed Child. While neither a film nor a book, this stage play is considered canon to the Harry Potter franchise and spans a period of time between 2017 and present day.
Year of Release: 2016
Beyond the obvious use of incidental flashback sequences, the films set in Hogwarts, the ones involves Harry’s education and character development, abide by Rowling’s decision to base Hogwart’s education system on the British school calendar. This means that every book covers a single school year, spanning the months of September through August, starting with Philosopher’s Stone in 1991. It is worth mentioning that while the films were set in the 21st Century and happen to slip up with an occasional anachronism in the muggle world, such as current music or phone models, they still seem to follow the same meticulous timeline as Rowling’s books.
As previous mentioned, Harry’s story continues, if not through the films, by way of the Cursed Child. this stage play begins in 2017 and handles the relationship between grown-up Harry, Hermione and Ron and their children.
One of the greatest benefits to watching films in the Harry Potter franchise is that there is no complicated mangle of timelines like in other franchises. You have the Harry Potter films that focus on the “Boy Who Lived” and then you have the Fantastic Beasts films that occur decades before Harry was even brought into existence in 1980. Having decades of time to play around with and only one canon incident between the Fantastic Beasts film franchise and the Harry Potter books means that there is no call for a “Machete Order” of preferred viewing. While most information about the future Fantastic Beasts films remains nebulous, Fantastic Beasts 3 was planned to shoot sometime in 2020 with a release the following year.
While order of release is one thing, a series with a defined sequence may not necessarily progress in quality at an even rate. A glimpse at user-submitted reviews on Internet Movie Database (IMDb) casts a consistent rating of quality when looking over the Harry Potter films, with 10-point reviews ranging between 7.4 and 8.1. Of the many films in the franchise, the Fantastic Beasts films consistently ranked among the lowest scorers. While the first Fantastic Beasts film only made more money than Prisoner of Azkaban, considered the second-best film of the franchise, the influence of over a decade of inflation on box office earnings brings any consideration of that film’s success into question.
It is also worth mentioning that the movies have had a huge effect on merchandise, as any Ravenclaw fan will be sure to point out-while the insignia of House Ravenclaw depicts an eagle, the films assumed that it actually featured a raven. This assumption had a trickle-down effect upon Harry Potter merchandise and has forced many Ravenclaw fans to look to individual artists instead of the official materials for any proper Ravenclaw items.
The Harry Potter Films Ranked from Worst-Scoring to Best-Scoring by Fans
- Crimes of Grindelwald
- Fantastic Beasts
- Chamber of Secrets
- Order of the Phoenix
- A tie between: Half-Blood Prince and Philosopher’s Stone
- A tie between Deathly Hallows, Part 1, and Goblet of Fire
- Prisoner of Azkaban
- Deathly Hallows, Part 2