As one of the most popular and influential franchises of all time, the Harry Potter movies are something that viewers of all ages have come to love. For some, however, it’s more than just a book-to-movie series; it’s a personality. Determining one’s Hogwarts house has become almost synonymous with horoscopes, Meyers-Briggs, and enneagrams when it comes to identifying oneself. Finding a saga with a similar cultural impact is difficult to impossible to find. The curious, magical wonder of the whole story is something that has drawn audiences far and wide to its appeal, inspiring dreamers to wish they could exist in the Wizarding world just to experience it.
Factors such as these are what makes it so challenging to find movies that are even close to being like Harry Potter, but they’re out there. While the Potter series reigns supreme, some of the movies on this list do a great job of worldbuilding, making them worthy additions to the magically synonymous universe. Without further ado, here are the movies like Harry Potter worth watching if you need more magic in your life.
Movies Like Harry Potter
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)
While it wouldn’t necessarily be considered a good film in all regards, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a fun movie for young people looking for a silly adventure tale. Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) is one of three apprentices to the famous wizard, Merlin but is forced to search for Merlin’s true successor over hundreds of years. Considering there was much less time to build the story world for this movie, the lore is still interesting enough to keep a viewer involved especially if one enjoys watching Nicolas Cage do what he does (in this case: corny yet entertaining acting).
Read our review of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice or dive into our list of the best Nicolas Cage movies.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)
One of the more enjoyable instances on this list, that would be considered a kids movie, is Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. The film was also adapted from a popular young adult book series, though not as universally loved as Harry Potter. The story follows a young boy named Percy (Logan Lerman) discovers that he is a descendant of a Greek God when he is accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt, sending him on a journey of self-discovery against some classic mythical adversaries. While the movie is definitely made for kids to young adults, the lore is utilized in a surprisingly clever and enjoyable manner that modernizes Greek mythology in a fun way. There is also a second film called Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, but the movie adaptations end there.
Read our review of The Lightning Thief or dive into updates on the upcoming Percy Jackson series.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
One of the best and most entertaining movies on this list is Howl’s Moving Castle: a wonderfully magical and original animated story from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki that establishes a whole new universe of lovable, complex characters and creatures. When young, timid Sophie is cursed by a witch to be an old woman, she stumbles upon a stubborn, reckless young wizard named Howl who indifferently takes her in as a housekeeper in his walking, enchanted castle. While the themes and imagery can be a bit more disturbing and adult at times, the multiple subplots and established canon are enough to entice almost any viewer to this wondrous tale.
See our list of the best Studio Ghibli movies for more like this.
Seventh Son (2014)
In what some could deem as a wholly unnecessary and convoluted story of random, magical happenings, Seventh Son still retains some enjoyable details that make it worth discovering. When the evil witch queen Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes from the prison that Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) put her in, he must recruit another apprentice–a seventh son of a seventh son–to fulfill a prophecy and destroy her once and for all. Though the story is a bit unorganized and the plot perforated with gaps, the characters and creatures are original enough to keep one’s attention.
Read our review of Seventh Son.
Doctor Strange (2016)
A film that is probably the furthest from Harry Potter thematically on this list, Doctor Strange treads into Marvel territory that turns a magical universe into a superhero’s tale. When an ingenious neurosurgeon named Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) gets in a life-altering car accident, he seeks out the mystic arts to heal himself but discovers much more about himself and the universe as a whole. The fundamentals of the magic in this movie are fairly different, yet also expand the imagined possibilities of what magic could do in such a universe.
Read our review of Doctor Strange.
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Based on the children’s book series of the same name, The Spiderwick Chronicles fulfills its goal to entertain its target audience: children. When the Grace family moves into the Spiderwick Estate previously owned by Professor Arthur Spiderwick, they discover that their great relative may not have been as crazy as he seemed after they encounter fantastical creatures in the forest nearby. While the characters in the movie don’t exactly wield magic like Hogwarts students, the concept of an interconnected, magical world is ever-present albeit a bit less entertaining.
Read our review of The Spiderwick Chronicles.
If the character Harry Potter was the most relatable and interesting part of the movie series to a viewer, then Matilda is likely to be a charming and enjoyable movie to watch. An extremely intelligent and gifted young girl, Matilda (Mara Wilson) must navigate her terrible, rude family and her ruthlessly cruel headmistress. Though the magic does not match the sheer scale of the Harry Potter series, Matilda uses her powers in mischievous yet helpful ways that border vengeful, as does Harry throughout the movie series.
Fantastic Beasts Series (2016-2022)
The closest thing in relation to the real thing is the Fantastic Beasts movie series: a prequel series that focuses on Harry Potter characters deep in the existing canon. Though the first movie focuses almost entirely on the famous Hufflepuff wizard, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his obsession with the magical creatures of the wizarding world, there is still plenty of Hogwarts magic and history to be had. With younger renditions of wizards like Dumbledore, the notorious Grindelwald, and other family names bound to be recognized.
Read our review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
Another movie based on a book of the same name, Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children arguably comes second in terms of story world only to the Harry Potter series. A misguided sould named Jacob (Asa Butterfield) follows his fathers’ mysterious path to discover Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children; a place where time has stopped, children are a bit more than peculiar, and deadly creatures are always lurking. Most certainly one of the most (if not the most) eerie and disturbing movies on this list, one could imagine this story simply as if Tim Burton were in charge of the Harry Potter series.
Read our review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Though magic is not the main focus of this fun and charming movie, Stardust is riddled with great characters, imaginative tribulations, and endless adventure. Coming from a small village on the border of a magical land, Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) embarks on an adventure to retrieve a falling star for the woman he loves, but encounters much more than he bargained for. The endearing and diverse characters of this movie are most of what make it great, with the added bonus of an exciting and romantic fantasy story that will keep viewers coming back for another go.
Read our review of Stardust.