Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets movie.jpg
British poster
Directed by Chris Columbus
Produced by David Heyman
Screenplay by Steve Kloves
Based on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
by J. K. Rowling
Starring Daniel Radcliffe
Rupert Grint
Emma Watson
(See below)
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Edited by Peter Honess
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • 3 November 2002 (2002-11-03) (London premiere)
  • 15 November 2002 (2002-11-15) (United Kingdom & United States)
Running time 160 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $100 million
Box office $878,979,634[1]

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a 2002 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.[1] It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film, which is the second instalment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman. The story follows Harry Potter's second year at Hogwarts as the Heir of Salazar Slytherin opens the Chamber of Secrets, unleashing a deadly monster that petrifies the school's pupils. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, alongside Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry's best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. It is the sequel to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and is followed by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

It was released on 15 November 2002 in the United Kingdom and North America. The film was very well received at the box office, making US$879 million worldwide and is the 34th highest-grossing film of all time.[1] and the seventh highest-grossing film in the Harry Potter series. It was nominated for three BAFTA Film Awards in 2003.


Further information: Plot of the novel

Preparing for a visit from a potential client of Uncle Vernon Dursley's, the Dursleys send Harry to his room. Harry finds Dobby the house elf, who warns him against returning to Hogwarts. When Harry refuses, Dobby ruins Vernon's meeting. Vernon locks Harry in his room to prevent his return to Hogwarts. Ron, Fred, and George Weasley arrive in their flying car to rescue Harry. The Weasleys take Harry to The Burrow, their home. Harry meets Ron's younger sister, Ginny, who is about to begin at Hogwarts and has a crush on Harry. Harry also meets Ron's father, Arthur Weasley. Harry and the Weasleys travel to Diagon Alley by Floo Powder. Harry meets Gilderoy Lockhart, a famous wizard and author, and later Draco Malfoy and his father, Lucius, who praise Voldemort and deride Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys.

At King's Cross Station, though the rest of the Weasleys reach Platform 9¾ without incident, Harry and Ron find the passage blocked; as a result, they miss the Hogwarts Express. Harry and Ron drive the flying car to Hogwarts, but accidentally land in the school's violent tree, the Whomping Willow, which damages their car. Ron's wand is broken and the car ejects the boys along with their bags before driving itself into the Forbidden Forest. When Harry and Ron enter Hogwarts they are seen by Mr. Filch who takes them to Snape, who scolds them for flying the car to Hogwarts and nearly expels them. Professor McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore arrive and McGonagall defends the boys and tells them they will receive detention only.

Harry begins hearing an ominous, icy, cold voice coming from inside the walls. Harry, Ron and Hermione find the message "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir, beware" written in blood across a wall and discover that caretaker Argus Filch's cat has been petrified. Legend has it that the Chamber of Secrets can only be opened by the Heir of Slytherin; it is said to be the home of a monster that will only obey the Heir. Harry suspects the Heir is Malfoy.

Gilderoy Lockhart, hired to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts, offers a dueling club. At the meeting Draco conjures a snake that Harry discovers he can talk to. Hermione explains that he is a parselmouth like Salazar Slytherin, a connection that causes the school to believe Harry is his Heir. Harry, Ron and Hermione drink Polyjuice Potion to disguise themselves as Malfoy's friends and interrogate Malfoy, but learn that he is not the Heir.

In Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, Harry finds a book that belonged to someone named Tom Marvolo Riddle. Through the enchanted book Harry sees events that happened fifty years ago when Tom was a student. Tom's memories incriminate Hagrid as the Heir, and a girl who died in that era.

Over the course of the school year, Colin Creevey, Justin Finch-Fletchley, the Gryffindor ghost Sir Nicholas and Hermione are found petrified, Tom Riddle's diary goes missing, and Harry is injured in a Quidditch match. Harry soon learns that Dobby is the one who sealed the way to Platform 9¾ and also caused Harry's injury. Harry and Ron decide to confront Hagrid, but before Hagrid can reveal who opened the Chamber, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge and Lucius Malfoy arrive. While Ron and Harry hide, the visitors tell Hagrid they are suspending Dumbledore as headmaster and arresting Hagrid under suspicion of having opened the Chamber. Before Hagrid is taken to Azkaban prison, he tells Ron and Harry to follow the spiders into the Forbidden Forest. They do so and meet Aragog, a giant spider thought to have killed a student fifty years ago. Aragog reveals that he is not the monster who killed the girl and that Hagrid is innocent. Aragog's sons and daughters attack Harry and Ron, but the flying car rescues them.

Harry and Ron learn from a piece of paper in Hermione's hand that the monster is a basilisk, a giant snake that can kill anyone just by looking at them; it is using plumbing pipes to move through the walls. They also overhear the teachers saying that Ginny has been taken into the Chamber and another message has appeared saying "Her skeleton will lie in the chamber forever".

Lockhart is sent to find the Chamber and save Ginny, but intends to escape until Harry and Ron catch him. It turns out Lockhart is a fraud; he used memory-erasing charms on witches and wizards to take credit for their accomplishments. The three discover that Moaning Myrtle is the girl who died and the chamber's entrance is in the bathroom, leading to an underground cavern. Lockhart tries stopping Harry and Ron by using a memory charm, but because he used Ron's broken wand it backfires. Lockhart loses his memory and part of the Chamber caves in, separating Harry from the others and forcing him to rescue Ginny alone.

Harry finds Ginny unconscious and slowly dying. Tom Riddle appears, explaining that he is a memory preserved in the diary. Tom tells Harry that Ginny opened the Chamber, sent the basilisk to attack and wrote threatening messages on the walls because he ordered her to. Harry learns that Tom is Slytherin's Heir and is Lord Voldemort in his teenage form. Tom sends the basilisk to kill Harry after telling him that it only listens to Tom, but Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes, attacks the basilisk, blinding it. Fawkes gives Harry the Sorting Hat, from which he draws the sword of Godric Gryffindor. Although Harry kills the basilisk, a fang embeds itself in his arm and poisons him.

Harry destroys Tom by piercing the diary with the fang. Ginny regains consciousness and finds Harry dying, but Fawkes heals Harry's wound with his tears. Dumbledore resumes his post as Headmaster and has Hagrid released from Azkaban. Dumbledore assuages Harry's concerns of his worthiness to belong to Gryffindor House by pointing out that only a true member could have summoned Godric's sword. Learning that Lucius gave the diary to Ginny and that Dobby serves the Malfoys, Harry tricks Lucius into freeing Dobby from servitude and advises Dobby to never try to save him again. At the year-end feast, the basilisk's victims are back to full health, and Hagrid receives a standing ovation as he returns to Hogwarts.

In a post-credits scene, a new Gilderoy Lockhart book is on display at Flourish & Blotts, entitled "WHO AM I?" and depicting an amnesiac, confused Lockhart in a straitjacket.


Main article: List of Harry Potter films cast members


Set design[edit]

The flying Ford Anglia used in the film

Production designer Stuart Craig returned for the sequel to design new elements previously not seen in the first film. These included the Burrow, Dumbledore's office (which houses the Sorting Hat, The Sword of Gryffindor and Dumbledore's desk),[4] Borgin and Burkes, and the Chamber of Secrets.

Mr. Weasley's car was created from a Ford Anglia.[5]


Production for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets began on 19 November 2001,[6] just three days after the wide release of the Philosopher's Stone. The first three weeks of shooting consisted mostly of second-unit work on special effects, primarily the flying car scene.[7] First-unit photography then began in Surrey, England, at Number Four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, for scenes taking place at the Dursleys' home. Filming continued on location at the Isle of Man and in several places in Great Britain; Leavesden Film Studios in London made several scenes for Hogwarts. Other locations were shot in England, including a Hogwarts Express set in King's Cross railway station Platform 9¾. The famous cloisters of England's Gloucester Cathedral were used as the setting for Hogwart's School.[8] Principal photography concluded in the summer of 2002,[9] while the film spent until early October in post-production.[10] In a change of cinematography from the first instalment, director Christopher Columbus opted to handheld cameras for Chamber of Secrets to allow more freedom in movement.[11]

Sound design[edit]

Due to the events that take place in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the film's sound effects were much more expansive than in the previous instalment. Sound designer and co-supervising sound editor Randy Thom returned for the sequel using Pro Tools to complete the job, which included initial conceptions done at Skywalker Sound in California and primary work done at Shepperton Studios in England.[12]


John Williams

John Williams, who composed the previous film's score, returned to score Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Scoring the film proved to be a difficult task. Williams had just completed scoring Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Minority Report when work was to begin on Catch Me If You Can. Because of this, William Ross was brought in to arrange themes from the Philosopher's Stone into the new material that Williams was composing whenever he had the chance.[13] The soundtrack was released on 12 November 2002.



Footage for the film began appearing online in the summer of 2002, with a teaser trailer debuting in cinemas with the release of Scooby-Doo.[14] A video game based on the film was released in early November 2002 by Electronic Arts for several consoles, including GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.[15] The film also continued the merchandising success set by its predecessor, with the reports of shortages on Lego's Chamber of Secrets tie-ins.[16]

Theatrical release[edit]

The film premiered in the UK on 3 November 2002 and in the United States and Canada on 14 November 2002 before its wide release on 15 November, one year after the Philosopher's Stone.

Home media[edit]

The film was originally released in the UK, US and Canada on 11 April 2003 on both VHS tape and in a two-disc special edition DVD digipack, which included extended and deleted scenes and interviews.[17] On 11 December 2007, the film's Blu-ray[18] version was released. An Ultimate Edition of the film was released on 8 December 2009, featuring new footage, TV spots, an extended version of the film with deleted scenes edited in, and a feature-length special Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 2: Characters.[19] The film's extended version has a running time of about 174 minutes, which has previously been shown during certain television airings.[20]


Box office[edit]

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets broke multiple records upon its opening. In the US and Canada, the film opened to an $88.4 million opening weekend at 3,682 cinemas, the third largest opening at the time, behind Spider-Man and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.[21] It was also No. 1 at the box office for two non-consecutive weekends.[22] In the United Kingdom, the film broke all opening records that were previously held by The Philosopher's Stone. It made £18.9 million during its opening including previews and £10.9 million excluding previews.[23] It went on to make £54.8 million in the UK; at the time, the fifth biggest tally of all time in the region.[24]

The film made a total of $879 million worldwide,[1] which made it the fifth highest-grossing film ever at the time.[25] It was 2002's second highest-grossing film worldwide behind The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers[26] and the fourth highest-grossing film in the US and Canada that year with $262 million behind Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones.[27] However, it was the year's number one film at the non-American box office, making $617 million compared to The Two Towers' $584.5 million.[28]

Critical reception[edit]

The film's reviews were very positive and it currently holds an 83% "Certified Fresh" approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes (the fourth most favourably reviewed Harry Potter film on the site)[29] and a score of 63 out of 100 at Metacritic representing "generally favourable reviews" (the least favourably reviewed Harry Potter film on the site).[30] Roger Ebert called The Chamber of Secrets "a phenomenal film" and gave the film 4 out of 4 stars, especially praising the set design.[31] Entertainment Weekly commended the film for being better and darker than its predecessor: "And among the things this Harry Potter does very well indeed is deepen the darker, more frightening atmosphere for audiences. This is as it should be: Harry's story is supposed to get darker".[32] Richard Roeper praised the directing and the film's faithfulness to the book, saying: "Chris Columbus, the director, does a real wonderful job of being faithful to the story but also taking it into a cinematic era".[33] Variety also said the film was excessively long, but praised it for being darker and more dramatic, saying that its confidence and intermittent flair to give it a life of its own apart from the books was something The Philosopher's Stone never achieved.[34] A. O. Scott from The New York Times said: "instead of feeling stirred you may feel battered and worn down, but not, in the end, too terribly disappointed".[35]

Peter Travers from Rolling Stone condemned the film for being over-long and too faithful to the book: "Once again, director Chris Columbus takes a hat-in-hand approach to Rowling that stifles creativity and allows the film to drag on for nearly three hours".[36] Kenneth Turan from the Los Angeles Times called the film a cliché which is "deja vu all over again, it's likely that whatever you thought of the first production – pro or con – you'll likely think of this one".[37]


The film was nominated for three BAFTA Awards. These were for Best Production Design, Sound, and Achievement in Visual Effects.[38] The film was also nominated for six Saturn Awards in 2003 and in 2004 for its DVD release.[39]


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  2. ^ Reiter, Amy (1 October 2001). "Hugh can't always get what you want". Salon. Retrieved 26 September 2007. 
  3. ^ "Gilderoy Lockhart actor found for Potter 2". Newsround. 25 October 2001. Retrieved 26 September 2007. 
  4. ^ "Harry Potter and the studio tour: Fans to go behind-the-scenes at Leavesden". Daily Mail. 22 August 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Harry Potter's 'flying' car taken". BBC News. 28 October 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "'Harry Potter' making records disappear". USA Today. 18 November 2001. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
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  12. ^ Jackson, Blair (1 January 2003). "The Chamber of Secrets". MIX. NewBay Media, LLC. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
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  14. ^ "Potter trailer gets Scooby outing". BBC News. 13 June 2002. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  15. ^ Krause, Staci (26 November 2002). "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The second outting for the young wizard is better than the first...but how much better?". IGN. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  16. ^ Cagle, Jess (3 November 2002). "When Harry Meets SCARY". Time. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  17. ^ Kipnis, Jill (1 March 2003). "Blockbuster Sequels Ensure DVD's Sale Saga". Billboard. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  18. ^ "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  19. ^ Calogne, Juan (18 September 2009). "Ultimate Editions Announced for First Two Harry Potter movies". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  20. ^ "Exclusive First Look at 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' to Be Presented During Network Television Debut of 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,' Airing May 7 on ABC". Business Wire. 2 May 2005. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
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  22. ^ "November 29-December 1, 2002 Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
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  33. ^ Roeper, Robert (15 November 2002). "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets". Ebert & Roeper. Retrieved 22 September 2007. 
  34. ^ McCarthy, Todd (15 November 2002). "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets". Variety. Retrieved 22 September 2007. 
  35. ^ Stevens, Dana (15 November 2002). "FILM REVIEW; An Older, Wiser Wizard, But Still That Crafty Lad". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 September 2007. 
  36. ^ Travers, Peter (15 November 2002). "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 22 September 2007. 
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  38. ^ "BAFTA Nominees and Winners 2003 – The Pianist Tops the List". About.com. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  39. ^ Moro, Eric (5 March 2003). "The 29th Annual Saturn Awards Nominations – Feature Film Category". Mania.com. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 

External links[edit]