Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Film) Released in the US

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a 2004 fantasy adventure film, based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling.

Directed by Mexican film maker Alfonso Cuarón, it is the third film in the popular Harry Potter series. It stars Daniel Radcliffe as the teenage wizard Harry Potter, and Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry's best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Gary Oldman and David Thewlis joined the cast as the new characters Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. In this movie, the role of Albus Dumbledore was played by Michael Gambon who took over from the late Richard Harris who died of Hodgkin's disease. Steve Kloves returned as screenwriter, while Chris Columbus (the director of the previous two films) became a producer, alongside David Heyman. The film was released on 31 May 2004 in the United Kingdom and on 4 June 2004 in North America, as the first film released into IMAX theaters.

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards — Academy Award for Original Music Score and Academy Award for Visual Effects at the 77th Academy Awards held in 2005.

Prisoner of Azkaban was, at the time of publication, the longest book in the series. The increasing plot complexity necessitated a looser adaptation of the book's finer plot lines and back-story. The film opens with Harry using magic to light his wand in short bursts, in the same scene in the book he uses a torch as performing magic is illegal for minors. The connection between Harry's parents and the Marauder's map is only briefly mentioned, as is Remus Lupin's association to both the map and James Potter. Some exposition was removed for dramatic effect: both the Shrieking Shack and Scabbers the rat are mentioned only very briefly in the film adaptation, while they receive a more thorough coverage in the novel. Most of the back story of Sirius Black is also cut, with no mention of the manner of his escape from Azkaban.

On account of pace and time considerations, the film glosses over detailed descriptions of magical education. Only one Hippogriff, Buckbeak, is seen, and only Malfoy and Harry are seen interacting with the Hippogriff during Care of Magical Creatures lessons, and most other lessons, including all of Snape's potions classes, were cut from the film. The complicated description of the Fidelius Charm is removed entirely from the film adaptation, with no explanation given of exactly how Black betrayed the Potters to Lord Voldemort. Many of the lines in this scene are redistributed amongst Cornelius Fudge and Minerva McGonagall; in compensation, McGonagall's exposition of the Animagus transformation is instead given by Snape.

The embryonic romantic connection between Ron and Hermione is more prominent in the film adaptation than the original book; in response to criticism of the first two films for sacrificing character development for mystery and adventure, the emotional development of all three lead characters is given more attention in the third film. However, some critics and fans thought that the result was a murky plotline. That said, any mention of the beginnings of Harry's crush on Cho Chang is removed. Cedric Diggory also did not appear in the films until the following film, and thus, his father Amos is a much nicer person in the next film than in the book of that film as Cedric did not beat Harry. In the film, the Hufflepuff Seeker, who is not named in the film even though it was Cedric in the book, is struck down by lightning. Malfoy, in the film, is made into more of a character to laugh at than he was in the novel. (For example, he was far less capable of composing himself in the scene where Hermione hit him, walking away in tears, rather than merely frustrated. Also, Harry and Ron did not take him as seriously, telling Hermione "he's not worth it" when she pulls her wand on him, rather than rushing to hit him themselves.) The darker side of Harry, first seen in Prisoner of Azkaban is glimpsed in this film, when Harry proclaims, "I hope he [Black] finds me. Cause when he does, I'm gonna be ready. When he does, I'm gonna kill him".