Chris Columbus, the director of the first two Harry Potter movies, says he would love to have his 3-hour cut of Sorcerer’s Stone released.
Chris Columbus, the director of the first two Harry Potter movies, says he would love to have his 3-hour cut of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone released. 20 years ago, Warner Bros. brought in Columbus (Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Mrs. Doubtfire) to helm screenwriter Steve Kloves’ game-changing adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s first novel in the Harry Potter franchise. The film proved a faithful adaptation, launching the careers of then-child actors Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley). Columbus was also brought back for a sequel before the studio decided to bring in Alfonso Cuarón to age up Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with its characters.
While Sorcerer’s Stone runs 152 minutes, Columbus’ follow-up, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is even longer at 161 minutes—which makes them the longest-running movies in the franchise. Columbus has said that, originally, Sorcerer’s Stone was 172 minutes long, just eight minutes short of three hours. This extended version movie was screened to a test audience in Chicago, and while the children loved it, the parents who watched it thought it was too long. Therefore, nearly a half-hour of footage was removed before the theatrical release. Still, both of Columbus’ entries in the franchise include more of the book than their successors.
In the wake of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut and calls to release David Ayer’s cut of Suicide Squad (2016), The Wrap asked Columbus about his 3-hour cut of Sorcerer’s Stone. The publication told him they’d love to see it released – and he agreed. “I would too,” he said. “We have to put Peeves back in the movie, who was cut from the movie!” For the uninitiated: Peeves is a mischievous poltergeist from the books who haunts Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the 3-hour cut of the film, he was portrayed by actor Rik Mayall.
The scenes featuring Peeves have not been released in any of the film’s home video releases, including the Ultimate Edition, which runs seven minutes longer than the theatrical version. The being said, it’s surprising that WB hasn’t released Sorcerer’s Stone’s 3-hour cut in the decades since its debut. While WB has said they are currently unaware of any plans to release the cut, given the Internet’s affinity for director’s cuts, Columbus’ comments may ignite a push for it. Unlike more recent instances where director’s cuts have proven far superior to lackluster theatrical cuts, Sorcerer’s Stone is already considered a classic. Still, fans would surely enjoy never-before-seen footage.
As one of the most important masterminds behind the Harry Potter franchise, Columbus’s work on Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets built its wizarding world for the films that would follow. No doubt under pressure to be judicious with his editing, Columbus still managed to include every essential aspect of Rowling’s source material (and then some). The same can’t necessarily be said for other entries like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Even if the extended cut of that first film never sees the light of day, the released version released remains as long as it needs to be.