By this point, pretty much everyone and their pet rock has heard of Harry Potter. The bestselling book series spawned not just a popular stage musical and several spin-off books, but eight massively successful films that saw its young stars grow up before our very eyes.
With Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint in the three lead roles, the movies follow the adventures of one Harry Potter, a seemingly ordinary boy who learns that he actually has magical powers, and must fight against an evil fascist would-be dictator in order to save the wizarding community.
But what to do if you’ve seen all the movies and still have a hankering for some cinematic magic? We’ve assembled a list of movies like Harry Potter that’ll scratch that itch — all of which are currently available to stream.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Back in the early 2000s, A Series of Unfortunate Events was one of Harry Potter’s main competitors when it came to kids’ fantasy books about ill-fated orphans. It revolves around the three Baudelaire children (Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny), who lose their parents in a mysterious fire. They’re taken in by Count Olaf (Jim Carrey, who must have gotten a stomachache from chewing on all the scenery), a distant relation who has nefarious intentions for his new wards. What sets A Series of Unfortunate Events apart from other films in the same genre is that it has a pitch black sense of humor, putting its young heroes in endlessly bleak circumstances while still giving a wink to the audience.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Before Harry Potter was even a twinkle in the eye of JK Rowling, The Chronicles of Narnia was enchanting children for generations (and continues to do so). But when the film version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came out in 2005, it was greenlit at least partially in an attempt to capitalize on the success of the popular wizarding franchise, which made it clear that young audiences responded well to the fantasy genre.
The Pevensee children, a group of four siblings from WWII-era England, end up being magically transported to the land of Narnia by way of an ordinary wardrobe. There, they are drawn into geopolitical conflicts, battle an evil witch, meet Santa, and eventually become kings and queens. Not bad for a quartet of preteens.
Watch it on Disney Plus
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Another day, another quasi-Harry Potter film with Christopher Columbus in the director’s chair. Like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson is a perennial underdog who learns to his amazement that he has both unusual powers and a storied legacy. Like Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson book franchise took the YA market by storm, wooing young readers around the world. But while Harry Potter revolves around the life of a young wizard transplanted into a school for magic, Percy Jackson has its origins rooted firmly in Greek mythology.
Percy discovers that he is actually the demigod son of Poseidon, and is sent away for his own protection to what is essentially a summer camp for all the wayward half-human offspring of the gods. As the son of one of the three most powerful gods — all of whom took a vow not to father any more demigod children, for the good of everyone — Percy has an immediate target on his back. Almost like he’s “the Chosen One.”
Watch on Disney Plus
The House with a Clock In Its Walls
The parallels between The House with a Clock In Its Walls and Harry Potter are myriad. Both feature young orphans sent off to live with their oddball relations as a result of a car crash that killed their parents (or at least, that’s the party line in Harry Potter, even if it turns out not to be true). In both films, said orphan inadvertently discovers a world of magic at their fingertips, and is forced to do battle with the forces of darkness to protect those around them.
Unlike Harry Potter, however, The House with a Clock In Its Walls was only ever intended to be a standalone film, despite interest from many fans in a sequel to further explore the adventures of its young wizarding hero.
In terms of plot, Hugo doesn’t have much in common with Harry Potter — except for the fact that it’s based on a popular children’s book, and it’s about a young orphan boy who discovers magic. Hugo (Asa Butterfield) lives alone in a bustling Parisian train station, narrowly evading the security guard who is determined to catch him.
He befriends a grumpy toymaker (Ben Kingsley) and his granddaughter (Chloe Grace Moretz), only to discover that the bitter old man is actually Georges Melies, the famed father of silent film in France. Directed by Martin Scorsese with a playfully imaginative eye, Hugo captures the journey of its young protagonist to help Melies rediscover the magic of cinema — something that Scorsese hopes to impart to the audience, as well.
Watch on Paramount Plus
Who needs a stodgy old British boarding school setting for their magic when they can have a Southern gothic? Beautiful Creatures revolves around a teenage girl, Lena Duchannes, whose life will change forever once she reaches her 16th birthday. Cursed with supernatural powers beyond her control, she will be claimed for either the light or the dark, as each of her family members has been before her.
It takes the magic of Harry Potter and its central battle between the powers of good and evil, and injects scintillating family drama into the proceedings. Then, for good measure, it’s peppered with the kind of star-crossed romance that made Twilight all the rage at the time.
Watch on Max
Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children
What if Harry Potter didn’t take place in a grand castle in the Scottish countryside, but in a small institution for children with special abilities? The result might look something like Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children, where Jake (Asa Butterfield) travels back in time to 1943 to discover a cozy English home occupied by a group of children with unusual qualities (one can breathe underwater, for example, while another has the power to bring the dead back to life) and their caretaker, Miss Peregrine (Eva Green).
The entire school exists within a time bubble, where the strange inhabitants can be protected from the dangers of the outside world, and malevolent forces that threaten to hunt them down. In terms of world-building and magical ambiance, Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children matches the best that Harry Potter can offer.
Watch on Disney Plus
Young Sherlock Holmes
Young Sherlock Holmes may not take place in a world of magic, but it nonetheless has more than a passing similarity with Harry Potter. In detailing one of the teenage Sherlock Holmes’ first ever cases, it features a trio of heroes: A lanky ginger, a short, bespectacled boy with brown hair, and a bushy haired female sidekick. (And that’s to say nothing of the film’s swotty blond antagonist, who bears a striking resemblance to Draco Malfoy.)
It captures the classically British boarding school experience, and there’s a reason it’ll look familiar to Harry Potter fans: It was directed by Christopher Columbus a decade and a half before he helmed the first two Harry Potter movies. His stylistic choices from Young Sherlock Holmes have echoes in Harry Potter, from its castle-like boarding school aesthetic to the long tables of the student dining hall.
Watch on Prime Video
The Neverending Story
Back in the early 2000s, A Series of Unfortunate Events was one of Harry Potter’s main competitors when it came to kids’ fantasy books about ill-fated orphans. It revolves around the three Baudelaire children (Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny), who lose their parents in a mysterious fire. They’re taken in by Count Olaf (Jim Carrey, who must have gotten a stomach ache from chewing on all the scenery), a distant relation who has nefarious intentions for his new wards. What sets A Series of Unfortunate Events apart from other films in the same genre is that it has a pitch black sense of humor, putting its young heroes in endlessly bleak circumstances while still giving a wink to the audience.
Watch on Max
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Audrey Fox is a features editor and film/television critic at Looper, with bylines at RogerEbert.com, The Nerdist, /Film, and IGN, amongst others. She has been blessed by our tomato overlords with their coveted seal of approval. Audrey received her BA in film from Clark University and her MA in International Relations from Harvard University. When she’s not watching movies, she loves historical non-fiction, theater, traveling, and playing the violin (poorly).