Why are the Harry Potter movies set in the 1990s? The film franchise consisted of eight films and ran from 2001 until 2011. The films were based on J.K. Rowling's insanely popular book series of the same name.
Rowling got the idea for the epic tale centering on a boy wizard in the early '90s. The first installment of the series, which also served as Rowling's debut novel, was titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone but it was released a year later in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The book later reached the top of the best-sellers list and stayed on there for years. Rowling expanded the series by writing six more sequels and a number of standalone books.
The novels focused on Harry Potter and his schoolmates at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as certain events eventually led to the Second Wizarding World against Lord Voldemort. Harry received his acceptance letter to Hogwarts on his eleventh birthday which would have been in 1991. The young wizard immediately started school that same year. Each book took place during a separate year during Harry' schooling at Hogwarts meaning the entire series took place through the decade of the '90s.
Rowling started writing the first Harry Potter novel in 1990 but she didn't finish it for another five years. The book wasn't published until 1997. The seventh and final Harry Potter book wasn't published until a decade later. Since Rowling spent most of the early '90s writing the initial story, it makes sense why the novel began with Harry entering Hogwarts in 1991. She used her current year at that point at the setting of the epic fantasy tale.
Rowling was very active in the film adaptations for the Harry Potter series. She had some control of the story direction and even reviewed the script on a few of the movies. She was later promoted to a producer for both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While the Harry Potter movies rely on many of the same dates as the books for their timeline of canon events, they actually take place in the first decade of the 2000s as evidenced by the fashion, technology, and other visible details.
While the early 2000s saw a number of technological changes that altered the day to day life of many teens, the movies avoided getting too bogged down in the implications of the 21st century and depicted events similarly to thir depiction in the 1990s setting of the books as they kept away from cell phones and computers. Besides, who needs those things when you have a wand and an owl that handles your communication?
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