Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) Poster


Jump to: Cameo (2) | Director Cameo (1) | Director Trademark (3) | Spoilers (14)
In order to acquaint himself with his three lead actors, director Alfonso Cuarón had each of them write an essay about their characters, from a first-person point of view. Emma Watson, in true Hermione fashion, went a little overboard and wrote a 16-page essay. Daniel Radcliffe wrote a simple one-page summary, and Rupert Grint never even turned his in.
Ian McKellen turned down the role of Dumbledore. Having appeared as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, he said, "I had enough trouble living up to one legend. Two would be too much to hope for."
Alfonso Cuarón had the idea to have Harry, Ron, and Hermione wear everyday clothes more often than their Hogwarts uniforms in order to show more of the characters' personalities. He also gave the rest of the Hogwarts students permission to wear their uniforms any way they wanted to in order to bring a greater sense of realism to the wizards' school, hence why some of the students wear the uniforms very neatly while others have the shirts and ties hanging out.
Alfonso Cuarón had the idea that when the dementors approached the Hogwarts Express the rain would turn to ice, however, due to his thick Spanish accent the visual effects team misheard "ice" as "eyes". They went as far as to draft a storyboard which depicted eyes falling from the sky, which they presented to a stunned Cuarón, who instantly corrected their mistake.
Aware of his fondness for music, Gary Oldman presented Daniel Radcliffe with a bass guitar as a gift when they met.
A clause in Alfonso Cuarón's contract forbade the director from cursing in front of the kids on set.
To make the Knight Bus appear as if it was zipping through traffic at an extremely high speed, the scenes were filmed with the bus driving at normal speed and the rest of the traffic driving at snails pace. The film was advanced though the camera at a slower rate than it would eventually advance on screen. When the scene was played back at normal speed, the bus appears to be driving super fast.
Alfonso Cuarón had the idea to better establish the layout of Hogwarts to make it seem more like a real place and not simply a group of sets. "We started linking spaces," Cuaron said. "You see that there's the Great Hall, and right outside the Great Hall you see a hallway leading you to the staircases. And you take those staircases to the Gryffindor dorm. Or if you walk over the wooden bridge, you exit into a little garden of monoliths. When you go past the monoliths and down this specific path, you get to Hagrid's hut."
Originally the script called for Hermione to slap Malfoy as opposed to punching him. During rehearsal for the scene Tom Felton told Emma Watson to slap him, however he had intended for her to not actually hit him, and thus was taken by surprise when Emma smacked him across the face as hard as she could. Emma said she felt terrible about it afterwards and didn't know what she was thinking.
Alfonso Cuarón coached Daniel Radcliffe in one scene where the latter had to act awed: "Pretend you're seeing Cameron Diaz in a G-string". It worked.
Alfonso Cuarón had never read the Harry Potter books or seen the first two movies when he was offered the job of director.
The bats seen flying around in Hagrid's hut are real. They were particularly challenging to train, and Daniel Radcliffe noted that they tended to urinate everywhere. The animal trainers kept the bats under control using food-rewards; they especially enjoyed banana.
During the filming of the sleeping bag scene, director Alfonso Cuarón, Michael Gambon, and Alan Rickman played a practical joke on Daniel Radcliffe (who had requested to have his sleeping bag next to a girl whom he liked at the time) by hiding a remote-control-operated Whoopee Cushion in his sleeping bag. According to Cuarón, Daniel tried really hard to stay in character while everyone else was laughing.
The tattoos on Sirius Black's body and hands are borrowed from Russian prison gangs. They are markings which identify the person as a man to be feared and respected.
Azkaban Prison, though mentioned, never actually appears in the film. Nonetheless, concept art was created by both conceptual artist Andrew Williamson and production designer Stuart Craig. Both sketches depict Azkaban as a triangular stone fortress built on the edge of a giant waterfall. When Azkaban is seen for the first time in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) the filmmakers looked to these sketches and ultimately decided to keep the triangular design but relocated the prison to an island in the middle of the ocean (closer to how it was described in the book).
Dudley Dursley has no lines. He only laughs at the TV and gives two gasps of surprise.
It was Alfonso Cuarón's idea to have a Hogwarts Choir singing as the students enter the school, and he suggested using "Double, Double Toil and Trouble" from William Shakespeare's Macbeth. John Williams agreed, so the tune - and lyrics - ended up being used throughout the film, titled "Double Trouble". The Shakespeare/Macbeth motif was used to the extent of the film being marketed under the tagline "Something wicked this way comes". And, coincident or not, the lines in the play are spoken by witches, who are called the "Weird Sisters". In the novels, the Weird Sisters are a popular wizard band.
Between takes, Emma Watson liked to play with director Alfonso Cuarón's hair because it was so long. She even put it in pigtails. "I'm his unofficial hairstylist," Emma said.
Filming was halted following the vandalization of the train used as the Hogwarts Express.
Ron's fear of spiders was explained by author J.K. Rowling as stemming from an early trauma, when his practical joker brothers, Fred and George, tormented him with spiders during his infancy.
Honeydukes "is floor-to-ceiling psychedelia" and includes Mexican skulls made of sugar. The cast was told that the Honeydukes candy was lacquer-coated, when in fact it wasn't, to prevent candy from disappearing between takes.
Gary Oldman says he accepted the role of Sirius Black because he "needed the work". He hadn't acted for over a year. His last film was Sin (2003), which was filmed in 2002.
The symbols under Sirius Black's picture on the Wanted Poster translate as "more or less human."
Harry Melling had lost so much weight that the role of Dudley Dursley was almost recast. Eventually it was decided that Melling would continue to play Dudley and would wear a fat suit to make him look heavier.
Chris Columbus originally signed on to direct all of the Harry Potter films, however he realized that by doing so he would miss out on seeing his kids grow up, and decided to pass on directing the third film and subsequent films. He would remain on board for the third film as a producer, but after shooting wrapped he ultimately decided to end his involvement with the Harry Potter franchise.
Michael Gambon admitted later on that he saw "no point" in reading the books, so during the whole course of playing the role of Dumbledore, he never read any of them.
The scene where Professor Lupin teaches Harry the Patronus Charm to defend against the dementors was filmed on the set that served as Dumbledore's office in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). Alfonso Cuaron liked the set and wanted to use it in this film. Since the book makes no mention of Dumbledore's office, the set was instead re-decorated as a different room entirely (referred to as the Astronomy Room in the script). It was reverted back into Dumbledore's office for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) and subsequent films.
Alfonso Cuarón had an idea for there to be tiny people inhabiting Hogwarts, and jumping on piano keys in one scene. J.K. Rowling firmly vetoed it, saying tiny people were completely foreign to the world of her books.
Professor Dumbledore seemingly stalls the executioner by saying that he needs to sign the execution order, and that he has "a very long name". In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), his full name is revealed to be Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
The last Harry Potter film to be released on VHS.
Warner Brothers supplied ushers at cinemas with night vision goggles to prevent illegal recording and pirating of the film.
Much of the filming was done in Scotland, so the filmmakers wanted to be sure that a Highland Cow, a breed of cattle native to Scotland, appeared in the film. The large, hairy animal with big horns can be seen in front of a shop in Hogsmeade when Ron and Hermione go and look for Harry after he leaves the pub.
Final Harry Potter film to feature a score composed by John Williams. Williams would continue to be credited throughout the film series for the main motif, "Hedwig's Theme," which was adapted by the composers for the subsequent films. Many fans hoped that Williams would return to compose the music for one of the later films but he ultimately never did.
The script for this film makes no mention of Professor Flitwick. Wanting to keep Warwick Davis involved, director Alfonso Cuarón came up with the idea of having him play the choir director. In the next film, Mike Newell liked the look of the choir director and wanted to keep using it. Therefore, the choir director became Flitwick, and his new look has been used for all the subsequent films.
Emma Thompson accepted the role of Professor Trelawney to impress her four-year-old daughter, Gaia Wise. Tilda Swinton was originally offered the role but declined.
First film in the franchise to have rainy scenes at Hogwarts.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference between this film and the two previous films is the characters' costumes; incoming costume designer Jany Temime (the third costume designer the series has had) gave most of the characters completely new wardrobes, and also re-designed the Hogwarts school uniforms and Quidditch robes. Temime wanted to bring a more modern look to the characters, at the same time being careful not to make them look too trendy. The only character whose outfit did not receive an overhaul was Severus Snape, as Temime thought that the existing billowing black robe suited the character. Temime would end up designing the costumes for all of the subsequent films as well.
Some fans were skeptical when Alfonso Cuarón was announced as the director for this film, as his previous film, Y Tu Mamá También (2001), a road comedy about two sexually obsessed teenagers who take an extended road trip with an attractive woman in her thirties, was controversial as much as it was acclaimed, as the film contained explicit nudity and sexuality as well as frequent rude humor. However, David Heyman felt he was the perfect director for the film, as he understood the emotions of teenage boys. Author J.K. Rowling was thrilled when she learned Cuarón would be directing the film, as she had seen and loved "Y tu mamá también" and likewise felt he was an excellent choice for director.
Author J.K. Rowling had two Godfathers, named Stanley and Ernie. These names are used for the conductor and driver of the Knight Bus early in the film.
Costume designer Jany Temime wanted to establish a color scheme for the outfits of each the three main characters to further define the characters' personalities. Harry's clothes consisted of soft colors such as grey, white and black, as she felt Harry wasn't entirely comfortable in his skin and therefore would not wear bright colors. Ron's clothes consisted of warmer tones such as brown, orange, and red, reflecting the fact that his mother used to knit sweaters for him and the style still is in him. Hermione's color scheme, consisting of blue, pink, and beige, was meant to balance out Harry's and Ron's colors and also to show a bit of Hermione's feminine side.
The only Harry Potter film not to gross over $800 million worldwide.
Although the stone circle seen in the Hogwarts Grounds was a creation of the filmmakers, it was based upon actual stone circles found throughout Britain (i.e. Stonehenge). The stones were created at Leavesden and were delivered by helicopter to Glencoe, Scotland, where they were set into holes dug into the ground. They looked so realistic that the young actors ultimately asked director Alfonso Cuarón if the stones were the reason why he picked that particular location. "It's always gratifying when your work is mistaken for the real thing!" said art director Alan Gilmore.
The one eyed witch passage that Harry used to go to Honeydukes is briefly seen in the corridor leading to Fluffy's chamber (in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
Shooting for the Knight Bus sequence took place on the streets of Palmers Green, North London. The film crew and local police kept the traffic and spectators in order with strict instructions to keep back during filming and not to use flash photography or it would ruin the take. Despite these warnings, there were still people who took pictures of the scene with flash, and at one point a driver ignored the police and the 'No Entry' and 'Diversion' signs and nearly drove into the oncoming traffic.
When designing the Marauder's Map, graphic designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima decided to stray from the traditional rolled-up treasure map with burned edges, and deigned it instead as a folding map with many layers, each representing a different level of Hogwarts Castle. The shapes of the various areas and objects depicted on the map are defined with written words as opposed to draftsman's lines. The map was printed on white paper and subsequently "aged" using a rich blend of coffee in order to give the appearance of old parchment.
Two Persian red cats were used for the role of Crookshanks: Crackerjack and Pumpkin. The trainers saved the cats' shed fur, rolled it into balls, and clipped these onto the cats in order to achieve Crookshanks's mangy appearance.
Alfonso Cuaron is known for his use of lengthy shots and restlessly moving cameras. Upon accepting the role of director for this film he was advised by his close friend, fellow Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, to tone down his more eccentric film-making techniques and instead be faithful to the previous two films.
During the scene where Buckbeak the Hippogriff is introduced, just after Ron pushes Harry forward there is a shot of the animal pooping. The CGI team believes this might be the first example of a CGI animal doing this, but the BBC miniseries Walking with Dinosaurs (1999) had done it first. This *is*, however, the first time such a scene is done for a feature film.
As part of a promotion by the toy company LEGO, in the United States, some cinemas handed out free mini-knight bus LEGO kits with the purchase of a ticket.
Dawn French, who plays the Fat Lady in this film (but not in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)) was at the time the wife of Lenny Henry, who voiced the shrunken head on the Knight Bus.
The rickety wooden bridge connecting Hogwarts to the surrounding landscape was at first going to be created entirely in the studio with a blue-screen allowing for a background to be added digitally in post-production. While a few scenes were filmed in the studio, Alfonso Cuarón decided to film the scene where Harry talks to Professor Lupin about his parents on location in Scotland. A section of the bridge was constructed in the Highlands for the shoot, and even though it was a lot sturdier than in appeared, the extremely heavy winds proved to be a challenge.
The character of Gregory Goyle, while appearing in a few scenes, is largely absent from the film. This was due to actor Josh Herdman injuring his arm and being unable to film certain scenes. Actor Bronson Webb was cast as an unnamed Slytherin boy (referred to as "Pike" in the script) who filled Goyle's role in those scenes.
When we see the Marauder's Map for the first time, the name 'Newt Scamander' can be seen. In the Harry Potter universe, he wrote the book "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them", but isn't a teacher at Hogwarts.
The effects team spent six months creating the dementors. Originally, Alfonso Cuarón wasn't thrilled with the idea of using CGI and wanted to use more traditional techniques such as puppetry. The filmmakers tried a basic technique with a dementor puppet floating in the breeze but weren't satisfied with the way it looked. Puppeteer Basil Twist showed them a technique that involved putting the puppet in water and shooting it in slow motion with the film reversed. The filmmakers liked the way it looked but realized that this would be an impossible task, so in the end they decided to use CGI to create the dementors.
In the scene where Harry is given the Marauder's Map by the Weasley twins, the name "Moony" is misspelled as "Mooney". While not really a mistake, there is still an interesting connection. The film's visual effects supervisor is named Karl Mooney. The spelling was changed deliberately for the in-joke.
Ron's dream about spiders making him tap-dance is a two-in-one reference of the next book. In 'Goblet of Fire' there is an unforgivable curse where you can control what someone does, taught by Professor Moody. He makes a spider tap-dance on the desk.
The rating in the Netherlands for this film is "not under 9". This rating was created especially for the film, since it was judged to be too scary for 6 year olds and the next rating, "not under 12", would exclude too much of the target audience.
Broke UK box office records when it grossed £5.3 million in its opening day of release on 31 May 2004, making it the biggest opening day and single day of all time.
Illusionist Paul Kieve served as a consultant. He taught magic to several members of the cast including Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson (Harry and Hermione) and worked extensively to create physical magical effects. He is the only professional illusionist to have worked on any of the series of films, and as a result, this film includes a number of discrete, authentic practical illusions throughout. The 2-Disc DVD even turns finding them into a game for the viewer. Kieve also makes a cameo appearance in the film in the scene in the Three Broomsticks pub.
The film was offered to director Guillermo del Toro but he opted to do Hellboy (2004) instead. Del Toro was good friends with Alfonso Cuarón and when he learned that Cuaron had been offered the role of director he passionately encouraged Cuaron to take the job.
The design of the large clock which functions as a visual motif in this film appears to be based on the Old Town Clock (also called the "Orloj" - pronounced "OR-LOY") in Prague, Czech Republic. The Orloj tells not only the time, but shows the month, the sign of the Zodiac, and shows the relative positions of the moon and sun.
Alex Crockford appears as the 2nd oldest Weasley son, Charlie, in the newspaper photo Ron shows to Harry in the Leaky Cauldron.
Despite his initial reluctance to accept the role of Albus Dumbledore, once he had signed on Richard Harris, who portrayed Dumbledore in the first two films, was determined to portray the character through the entire series. However, following the filming of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) Harris was diagnosed with Hodgekin's lymphoma, and during post-production on that film, producer David Heyman went to visit Richard Harris in the hospital. Though he was very weak from his illness, Harris insisted that the role of Dumbledore not be recast. Sadly, Harris passed away shortly before production was to begin on Prisoner of Azkaban, necessitating a recast.
After the death of Richard Harris, many actors were considered for the vacant role of Albus Dumbledore. Christopher Lee was in the frame for a while, and there was a rumor (reported in many newspapers) that Ian McKellen was also considered. The Harris family wanted Richard's longtime friend and peer Peter O'Toole for the role but there were studio concerns over insuring O'Toole for the remaining five films. Richard Attenborough also lobbied for the role but was ultimately turned down.
The set for Honeydukes was previously used as Olivander's Wand Shop in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), and Flourish and Blotts in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
Emma Thompson was once married to Kenneth Branagh, who portrayed Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
The Hufflepuff Seeker whom Harry competes against during the Quidditch match is Cedric Diggory. Diggory is his rival again a year later during the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
Sir Cadogan, played by Paul Whitehouse, was cut almost completely out of the film. You do still see Sir Cadogan jump into the shot of Ron, Harry and Hermione right after Ginny tells them the Fat Lady is gone. He appears in a picture behind them.
Because he would be overseeing this film's post-production work, director Alfonso Cuarón declined the offer to direct Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). Mike Newell was then chosen by Warner Brothers.
Production designer Stuart Craig has revealed that the appearance and location of Hagrid's Hut as seen in this film and subsequent films was closer to his original design for the hut, which had been compromised for the first two films due to the scenes being filmed in a small patch of land outside the studio, rather than on location in Scotland.
The crows seen in the latter part of the film are African Pied Crows. They were raised in captivity in California, as crows bred in captivity were easier to train than wild crows. The crows typically can be found throughout Africa.
Subplot involving the Sneakoscope concept from the novel, as well as an attempted attack on Ron in his sleep at Hogwarts by Sirius Black, were filmed (and can be partially found as additional scenes on some DVD versions) but ultimately scrapped from the finished version. Oddly enough, a small bit from the latter, Harry's lines about missing a chance to capture Black, was still featured prominently in most promotional trailers. (Source: 2-Disc DVD extras & trailers).
The geometric staircase at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, was used as the staircase that leads to the Divination classroom. It was the only indoor area of Hogwarts shown in this film to utilize an actual location for filming, as opposed to a studio set. The first film made heavy use of the various castles and cathedrals around Britain for much of the areas of Hogwarts, with additional sets being built for the second film.
Executive producer Chris Columbus (who directed the first two films) offered the role of director to Alfonso Cuarón after watching Cuarón's A Little Princess (1995).
Two Knight Buses were built: one for exterior shots and one for interior shots. The exterior of the bus was created by taking an ordinary double-decker London bus, adding a level, and painting it purple.
The Dursleys have three television sets in their house; one in the living room, one near the dining table, and one in the sunroom. While not mentioned in the film, it is explained in the book that Dudley complains about the long walk from the fridge to the television in the living room.
Among the difficulties associated with filming in Scotland was the amount of rain that fell during the shoot. During the breaks in filming, helicopters delivered large bags of gravel to the set in order to prevent it from washing out. Many of the filmmakers were concerned as to how this would affect the look of the film, although director Alfonso Cuarón and cinematographer Michael Seresin insisted that it was the best look that they could have come up with.
This film actually marks the second time that Michael Gambon has replaced Richard Harris. Harris had previously played Inspector Jules Maigret in Maigret (1988), while Gambon took over the role in the television series Maigret (1992).
The top of the Knight Bus was designed to be removable so that the vehicle could pass underneath bridges.
An additional set was built for the candy shop: the cellar. Not used in the film, it was included in a special feature on the DVD release that allowed viewers to explore the shop.
Marc Forster was offered the job of directing this film but declined and did Finding Neverland (2004) instead.
Prior to its release, material related to the film was labeled with the code title "Radiator Blues".
During the Quidditch game between Griffyndor and Hufflepuff, the seeker racing for the Golden Snitch alongside Harry is, in fact, Cedric Diggory. This is unknown to the audience, although readers of the novels will be aware of this fact already. Cedric appears officially in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) (recast as Robert Pattinson).
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Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (frequent collaborator of director Alfonso Cuarón) was supposed to be working on this film, but due to scheduling conflicts he was replaced by Michael Seresin.
The German subsidary of Warner Bros. tried to cut down the film (as they did with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)) to secure a more commercial "Not under 6" rating. They submitted several versions but all were rejected by the German ratings board FSK for this rating. In the end the uncut version was released with a "Not under 12" rating.
A fire near the Glenfinnan viaduct in Scotland delayed filming of the Hogwarts Express scenes for a day.
David Thewlis was originally considered to play Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).
At the time of its release, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" was the shortest of the Harry Potter films, despite the fact that the book was longer than both the previous books. After all eight films were released "Prisoner of Azkaban" ended up being the third shortest film in the series, behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), the latter of which is based on the longest book in the series.
During the "Time Turner" sequence, you can hear the sound of a clock's second hand ticking.
Other directors reportedly considered for this installment of the Harry Potter series included Callie Khouri and Kenneth Branagh, star of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
Not only may Professor Remus Lupin's last name possibly refer to a wolf ("lupus" being the species name of the wolf), but his first name does as well. In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were the founders of Rome and were both raised by a female wolf. (In actuality, Lupin is a type of flower, and Remus actually translates to "swift".)
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Last film in the series to be dubbed into Icelandic.
Gary Oldman and Timothy Spall have both played the William Shakespeare-created character of Rosencrantz; Oldman in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) and Spall in Hamlet (1996).
Two actresses in the film have played the Greek goddess Thetis: Dame Maggie Smith in Clash of the Titans (1981) and Julie Christie in Troy (2004).
The spell "Lumos" is also the name of J.K. Rowling's charity for children.
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J.K Rowling based the dementors on her battle with depression.
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When Chris Columbus was still slated to direct, Robson Green was considered for the role of Sirius Black.
Has the highest number of real animal species in the series, including but not limited to: A rat, a cat, a bat, a dog, a Highland Cow, an owl, a crow, to name but the most obvious.
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Some dubbed versions retain a voice likeness of the late Richard Harris for the character of Dumbledore, despite there being a quite different person in the role on screen. The Icelandic dub is one such case.
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Crabbe and Goyle yet again have no (discernible) dialogue.
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The third of eight movies based on the Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling.
In the opening sequence, Harry is seen practising a spell. According to the wizarding laws, it is illegal for anyone under the age of seventeen to perform magic outside of Hogwarts. This law was an important plot point in two other Harry Potter movies/books: Chamber of Secrets, where Harry receives a warning after Dobby uses magic in the Dursley's house and Order of the Pheonix, where Harry is summoned for a disciplinary hearing after performing a Patronus charm.
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Annalisa Bugliani, Tess Bu Cuarón:  Director Alfonso Cuarón's wife and their daughter are the mother and baby in the portrait next to the Fat Lady.
Ian Brown:  the singer (formerly of The Stone Roses) appears briefly in the bar at the start of the movie reading "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking. He was originally cast as the pub landlord, but the role was cut right down due to timing issues.

Director Cameo 

Alfonso Cuarón:  the man seated holding two lit candles when Harry enters Madame Rosmerta's Tavern.

Director Trademark 

Alfonso Cuarón:  [Use of wide-angle lenses]  The film was shot entirely on wide-angle lenses, ranging between 14-24mm. Cuaron insisted on the wide-angles because he wanted to let the audience see both the foreground and the background at the same time.
Alfonso Cuarón:  [Mexico]  References to director Cuarón's Mexican nationality abound. On the fountain in the courtyard in front of the clock tower, there are several statues of eagles eating snakes, as on the National Seal of Mexico. Also, among the many sweets offered at Honeydukes are skulls made of sugar, known as Calaveras, which are a popular treat in Mexico on "El Dia de los Muertos," or the Day of the Dead. And, after Dumbledore says his final lines outside the infirmary, he goes down the stairs humming "La Raspa", the Mexican Hat Dance.
Alfonso Cuarón:  [Title appears at both the beginning and the end of the film]  At the end of the film, the title is shown before the end credits, animated in the style of the Marauder's Map.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Although the Marauders' Map, created by Messrs Moony, Padfoot, Prongs, and Wormtail plays a large part in the film, the identities of the first three are not made clear. This is surprising as this was important to understanding this plot in the book. Moony was Lupin, who was supported by his three friends. These learned "Animagus" shape shifting techniques to sympathize with him. James Potter was Prongs the Stag (a trait passed on to the Patronus of his son Harry), Sirius Black was Padfoot the Dog, and Peter Pettigrew was, more obviously, Wormtail the Rat.
The only film in the series where Voldemort does not appear in some form.
Early in the film, Harry sees a newspaper article with a photograph of the Weasley family in Egypt. Though it is never again mentioned, this is a very important plot point in the book. While on an inspection of Azkaban the Minister of Magic had a copy of that paper, and gave it to Sirius Black who recognized Peter Pettigrew disguised as Scabbers. This is what made him decide to break out of Azkaban, track down Scabbers at Hogwarts, and take his revenge by killing him.
Lupin says that he was very close with Harry's mother. This may seem at odds with the book's story that Lily Evans was a close friend of Lupin's rival Severus Snape. However, J.K. Rowling revealed that after graduating from Hogwarts, Lupin still found it difficult to find paying work, because nobody wanted to employ a werewolf. James and Lily, therefore, financially supported him.
After the Fat Lady reports that Sirius Black is in the castle, there's a short scene of the large front gate closing up. As it does, you see a full moon in the sky and hear Lupin's wolf-form howling.
In the scene where Harry sees Peter Pettigrew's name on the map, but does not actually see him in the hallway, the sound of a rat scurrying about is faintly audible.
Contains spoiler for other films in the series] When Harry is lying in the hospital after falling off his broom, one of the Weasley twins says to Ron "Let's walk you off the Astronomy Tower and see what you'd look like." Though the filmmakers didn't know it (due to the book being unpublished at the time), this line actually foreshadows an event that takes place in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," where Snape kills Dumbledore by blasting him off the Astronomy Tower.
The ending of the film, in which Sirius escapes on Hagrid's hippogriff, is actually a reversal of the opening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), in which Hagrid arrives on a flying motorcycle which, the book reveals, he borrowed from Sirius.
The filmmakers wanted to stray away from the traditional werewolf and instead portray Lupin's lycanthropy as a debilitating disease. Hence, Lupin in his werewolf form is depicted as emaciated and mostly hairless, making him appear both frightening and pitiful.
Lucius Malfoy was supposed to appear in the film at Buckbeak's execution and be outraged when he had escaped. However Jason Isaacs was unavailable for filming.
Sirius', the brightest star in the night sky, is also known as The Dog Star. This foreshadows the fact that Sirius is The Grim, the dog seen throughout the film.
Despite featuring the idea of a mass murder as the back story, this is *arguably* the only book/movie in the series where no person dies in the story itself. The argument is that, while the villain in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) was destroyed, he was a ghostly automaton who was, perhaps, never alive to begin with.
Professor Lupin's name in itself may be a reference to his lycanthropy. The species of wolves and dogs is Lupus. Canis lupus for wolves, and Canis lupus familiaris for dogs.
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Timothy Spall plays a man who can transform into a rat. Spall provided the voice for the rat Nick in Chicken Run (2000).
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