The Wizarding World has captured the imagination of fans the world over, but unlike some series of films, there's no numbering to keep you on track, only titles.
Then you have the question of the Wizarding World films aside from the Harry Potter story - how exactly do these fit into the bigger picture?
Unlike some epic movie franchises, Harry Potter's story is sequential, so you have to watch the films in order. That at least makes things consistent and there are important plot threads that run from the first to the last, so any deviation will spoil the story, or leave you confused.
However, we're presenting two orders to you, the release order, i.e, the date the films came out, and the chronological order that those films occurred on a Wizarding World timeline. One version has spoilers, so to avoid those if you haven't seen the films, click the links to jump right to the order you're looking for.
Harry Potter film release order (spoilers) | Harry Potter film release order (no spoilers) | Harry Potter film chronological order (no spoilers)
NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW
This is the start of the Harry Potter story where you meet Harry for the first time as he heads to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, set in 1991 - but the film was released in 2001. You meet many of the main characters at Hogwarts, including the introduction of Lord Voldemort, Harry's arch nemesis, with the action revolving around the Philosopher's Stone. That stone belonged to Nicholas Flamel, who you don't actually meet until Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
The second book in the series and the second film, the adventures at Hogwarts continue for Harry Potter and his friends. Lord Voldemort grows stronger and things get a little darker as the children get older. The film came out in 2002, but is set in 1992.
There's quite a step change for the third movie as we're introduced to Sirius Black (the prisoner), who has a huge impact on Harry's story. But it's really the introduction of the dementors that see things getting darker, with an increasing sense of peril. At the same time, the Muggle family storyline becomes less important as Harry embraces his destiny. The film is set in 1993, but was released in 2004.
The Goblet of Fire is a pivotal moment in the story, taking the characters in to their teenage years (Harry is about 14 in this movie), introducing teenage themes like relationships, gives us the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament. The film starts in 1994 and was released in 2005.
With Voldemort now a very real threat, the action sees disruption at Hogwarts and the rise of the resistance against the dark lord - the Order of the Phoenix - and the general denial that there's a problem from the Ministry of Magic. The film was released in 2007 and is set around 1995.
The 2009 film is set in 1996 and in many ways is the story of Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore, adding complexity to the Harry Potter story and following the heroes into even more perilous engagements with the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters.
The final book in the Harry Potter story becomes two films. They are closely linked, with the first released in 2010. Harry Potter and friends decide to skip the last year of Hogwarts to pursue Voldemort and bring about his destruction. Much of the film revolves around hunting and destroying horcruxes, while Voldemort himself seeks the Deathly Hallows, wanting to become a master of death.
The second instalment of the Deathly Hallows was released in 2011 and continues the quests of the first instalment, with a lot more of the action centred around Hogwarts, including the huge Battle of Hogwarts. It pulls on various threads from earlier in the films - like the Chamber of Secrets and much more Potterlore - and brings the story to an action-fuelled conclusion.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is named after a Hogwarts textbook of the same title, authored by Newt Scamander, who is the protagonist of the Fantastic Beasts films. The films are a prequel to the Harry Potter series, in that they carry many of the Wizarding World themes but in a different story arc. In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander arrives in New York in 1926 on magizoologist business but is drawn into a magical plot.
The fantastic beasts take something of a backseat as the plot moves to the pursuit of Grindelwald, who wants to establish a wizarding order that's superior to muggles. We meet a young Dumbledore giving a link back to the Harry Potter films, but many of the characters from the first Fantastic Beasts return, as well as characters referenced in other movies, like Nicholas Flamel. The film is set in 1927 but came out in 2018, with a third instalment due to complete the story at some point in the future.
The third installment of the Fantastic Beasts tales picks up where The Crimes of Grindelwald left off, seeing an assembled team of familiar heroes to stop Grindelwald's plans in its tracks. It stars Mads Mikkelsen as Grindelwald, replacing Johnny Depp, and sees the return of Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law. It will get a theatrical release on 8 April 2022 in the UK and Ireland.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixHarry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldFantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (1926)Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (1927)Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (1930s)Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1991)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1992)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1993)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (1994)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (1995)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (1996)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (1997)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (1998)