Steven Spielberg Could Have Directed A Harry Potter Movie. Why He Doesn’t Look Back With Regret

Steven Spielberg in Austin Powers in Goldmember
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Steven Spielberg has been on the awards season press circuit with his semi-autobiographical movie, The Fabelmans, which has scored numerous honors nominations -- including seven 2023 Oscar nominations. The movie is just another stellar film in his decades-long filmography. However, as is the case with many other filmmakers, there are projects he had to turn down for various reasons. One of those missed opportunities was actually the first Harry Potter movie and, while he didn’t get a chance to bring the boy wizard to the big screen, the celebrated director doesn’t regret his choice looking back.

His semi-autobiographical film deals with the conflict that can arise when choosing between art and family. The Oscar winner began building a family with his wife Kate Capshaw after they married in 1991. This change led him to turn down the Harry Potter franchise, with the moviemaker putting it like this:

There were several films I chose not to make. They offered me Harry Potter. I chose to turn down the first ‘Harry Potter’ to basically spend that next year and a half with my family, my young kids growing up. So I’d sacrificed a great franchise, which I’m very happy today looking back I’m very happy to have done, to be with my family. Other times my family stayed in Los Angeles and I went abroad to tell a story.

So it would seem that at that point in his life, his main priority was spending time with his kids. At the time, his children were around the same age or younger than the Harry Potter cast in the first film, so that's totally understandable. With that, he chose to stay in the U.S. and direct the Tom Cruise hit Minority Report instead. It should also be said that Steven Spielberg's children have been with him during film shoots. He mentioned his family traveling with him while he was in production on certain movies. The Jaws helmer actually moved his wife and kids to Poland for several months while filming the Best Picture winner Schindler’s List.

Steven Spielberg was well into his successful career when his family started to become his focus. He has seven children in all, including his son with ex-wife Amy Irving. Spielberg admitted to running into conflict when it came to balancing his professional and home lives. The celebrated filmmaker revealed during his interview with RRR director S. S. Rajamouli for Reliance Entertainment that this dynamic played into The Fabelmans’ touching storyline:

The personal meaning about art and family will tear you in half happened to me later, after I had already established myself as a filmmaker, as a working director. And Kate [Capshaw] and I started raising a family and we started having children. We have seven kids now. The choice I had to make in taking a job that would move me to another country for four or five months where I wouldn’t see my family every day, that was the art and family [debate] that was really rending, ripping, kind of experience.

The 76-year-old was seamlessly able to translate his real-life family experiences into the poignant conflict present in his latest film, and it's interesting that he later experienced it during his career. It must be something for him to look be able to look back on that time in his professional life and say that he doesn't regret turning down Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which eventually went to the talented Chris Columbus. All in all, I'd say that things worked out as they were supposed to.

It might be some time before Steven Spielberg is back in the director’s chair, as he's producing multiple films, including the Bradley Copper-directed biopic Maestro and the latest film adaptation of The Color Purple, which features a great cast. More immediately, you can check out the 95th Academy Awards on March 12 to see if Spielberg’s The Fabelmans picks up any trophies. Also, through the schedule of 2023 new movie releases for info on other big films headed your way this year.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).