Featured in the July 2020 issue of The Rowling Library Magazine.

20 years of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

1255 words.
By Jessica Minneci. Illustration by Juan Anachuri.
UK and USA covers of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
UK and USA covers of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

On July 8, 2020, Harry Potter fans celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Let’s dive into the pensieve and reminisce about this amazing day in 2000.

The title of Book Four changed multiple times before it became Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In an Entertainment Weekly article, J. K. Rowling said, “I changed my mind twice on what the title was. The working title had got out – Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament. Then I changed ‘Doomspelll’ to ‘Triwizard Tournament.’ Then I was teetering between ‘Goblet of Fire’ and ‘Triwizard Tournament.’ In the end, I preferred ‘Goblet of Fire’ because it’s got that kind of ‘cup of destiny’ feel about it, which is the theme of the book.”

Published by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom and Scholastic in the United States of America, fans in both countries received their copies on the same day: July 8th. Out of the four Potter adventures, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the longest. The UK edition contained 640 pages while the USA edition had 734 pages. Readers also had the option to listen to the audiobook, narrated by Stephen Fry in the UK and Jim Dale in the USA. Unfortunately for visually impaired fans, the braille edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was not available until July 28, 2000. Braille books are much larger, longer, and more expensive than print books. In braille, one print page can equal two or three braille pages. As a result, the braille edition consisted of six volumes with 1037 braille pages and cost $173 from the Braille Bookstore.

On the release date, fans in Great Britain purchased 372,775 hardback copies. Meanwhile, in the United States, J.K. Rowling held the top 3 spots on the New York Times best-seller list. For the first time, bookstores also held Harry Potter midnight book release parties, where 3.8 million books were sold throughout the country. Interestingly, the law prevented booksellers from opening the shipment and selling the books until one minute after midnight. Many people also joke that the book was released on a Saturday so that children standing in long lines at the bookstore wouldn’t cut class at muggle school the next day to read about Harry’s adventures in wizarding school.

In addition, a special treat was planned for children in the United Kingdom. The book was launched at Platform 1 at King’s Cross Station in London, aptly renamed with signs saying “Platform 9-3/4.” One of the oldest steam locomotives in the United Kingdom was renamed the Hogwarts Express and painted red for the occasion. Some cars date back to 1891. The train stopped in many cities along the way including Oxford, Manchester, and York. The final stop was Perth in western Scotland. J.K. Rowling, representatives from Bloomsbury and the press, and many, many books waiting to be signed rode along on this iconic book tour.

The Harry Potter Lexicon also lists some interesting quotes from interviews with J. K. Rowling about her novel. When asked how vital this book is for Harry, Rowling replied, “Crucial. Book Four’s a very very very important book. Something very important happens in Book Four. Also, it’s literally a central book. It’s almost the heart of the series, and it’s pivotal.”

When questioned about the ending, Rowling admitted that she cried when she wrote the section where Dumbledore tells the student body to remember Cedric Diggory when they’re faced with the choice between what is right and what is easy. Rowling said, “The first time ever, I cried while writing. I actually cried twice during the ending of Book Four. It’s a powerful ending, but there’s a reason why – something very important happens. I have said all along that if you’re writing about evil you should have enough respect for children to show them what it means. Not to dress up a pantomime villain and say, isn’t it frightening?, when it isn’t. It’s the ending I planned and I was very happy when I re-read it.”

This great novel also received many awards: the Scottish Arts Council Book Award 2001; the Children’s Book Award in 9-11 category 2001; winner of the Hugo Award; winner of Whitaker’s Platinum Book Award 2001; and winner of the Indian Paintbrush Book Award 2002. Entertainment Weekly listed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire under “The New Classics: Books – The 100 best reads from 1983 to 2008.” Under the Guardian’s list of “100 Best Books of the 21st Century,” the book was listed as #97.

At the time of publication, the magic of Harry Potter was getting ready to hit the big screen as casting for the movie of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was in full swing. J.K. Rowling gave British producer David Heyman film rights for her first four books in 1999. In March the following year, Chris Columbus was selected to be the director of the first film, and Steve Kloves wrote the screenplay. As Rowling insisted on an all British cast for the films, Warner Brothers sought British children who were similar in looks to Harry, Ron, and Hermione to play these roles. Heyman went to the theater one night in 2000 and saw Daniel Radcliffe’s father, who was an agent. Heyman proceeded to ask Daniel to audition and he did. As part of their auditions, actors and actresses for the three main roles underwent screen tests, where they auditioned together with different mixes and matches. Emma Watson was chosen first to play Hermione Granger followed closely by Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley. Harry was the last of the trio to be cast. Eight months after his initial meeting with the producer at the theater, Daniel received the role of Harry Potter. Before his role as Harry, Daniel starred as David in the BBC’s David Copperfield. Emma and Rupert were virtually unknown as they had only performed in school plays before being cast in the Potter films. In the BBC article, “Young Daniel Gets Potter Part,” posted on August 21, 2000, J.K. Rowling gave the cast choices her blessing.

She said, “Having seen Dan Radcliffe screen test, I don’t think Chris Columbus could have found a better Harry. I wish Dan, Emma, and Rupert the very best of luck and hope they have as much fun acting the first year at Hogwarts as I had writing it.” Rowling also had a hand in the rest of the cast selection, picking Robbie Coltrane to play Hagrid; Dame Maggie Smith to play professor McGonagall; and Alan Rickman to play Severus Snape. There were only two exceptions to the all British cast rule: Sir Richard Harris who played Dumbledore and Zoe Wanamaker who played Madam Hooch. Filming began in September 2000 at Leavesden Studios. A little over a year after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published, on November 16, 2001, the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone premiered in theaters.

Stepping out of the pensieve, the year 2000 seems like such a long time ago. Although all the original seven books and movies have since been released, according to IMDB, Harry Potter enthusiasts still have more magic to look forward to. The third Fantastic Beasts movie premiers on November 12, 2021, almost 20 years after the first Potter film was released.

The Goblet of Fire - By Juan Anachuri
The Goblet of Fire – By Juan Anachuri