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How to watch the Harry Potter movies in order

A chronological guide to the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies

Harry Potter movies in order
(Image: © Warner Bros)

Looking to watch the Harry Potter movies in order in 2021? While the Harry Potter films don't have a consistent streaming home in the US and UK at the time of publication, the motion picture series based on JK Rowling's books is easy enough to find on Blu-ray or VOD these days. 

There are eight Harry Potter movies in total, based on seven books, and they follow the titular boy wizard's journey from living in a cupboard under his aunt and uncle's stairs to battling his parents' killer at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In this guide, we'll explain how to watch the Harry Potter movies in order, along with the Fantastic Beasts prequel movies.

We'll show you both the chronological and release orders of the films, and explain which Harry Potter movies are the best based on their IMDb rankings. Let's get started...

Harry Potter movies in chronological order

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Here's how to watch the Harry Potter movies in chronological order – not including any movies in the works, like the three more planned Fantastic Beasts prequels. We know that the series will end with a duel between Albus Dumbledore and former BFF-turned-nemesis Gellert Grindelwald in 1945, but everything in between is currently a mystery. Below, we decided to just include everything Harry Potter-related that it's possible to watch right now – including the stage play, The Cursed Child. 

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (set in 1926)
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (set in 1927)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (set in 1991-92)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (set in 1992-93)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (set in 1992-94)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (set in 1994-95)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (set in 1995-96)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (set in 1996-97)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (set in 1997-98)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (set in 1997-98)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2017-present, stage play)

Note that outside the US, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. 

Aside from the occasional flashback, the Hogwarts-set movies in the series follow a simple linear structure – mostly thanks to Rowling’s decision to use the British school calendar as a framework for her narrative. That means each of the seven books in the Potter series focus on a different school year (running from September to August), starting in 1991, when Harry’s 11 years old. 

While the movies were made in the ’00s, and feature the occasional anachronism such as 21st century mobile phones or music, it’s probable they follow the same carefully crafted timeline as Rowling’s books – placing the Harry Potter films some 70 years after their Fantastic Beasts counterparts.

And Harry Potter’s story does continue into the future – though not on screen – thanks to the hit stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The story picks up in 2017, during the epilogue from Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, and features the now grown-up Harry, Hermione and Ron, and their kids.

Harry Potter movies in release order

Harry Potter movies in order

The deeper into the movies you get, the darker they are. (Image credit: Warner Bros)

There are no complicated interweaving timelines to deal with if you watch the Potter movies in release date order – it’s two distinct series, with an (as-yet) incomplete set of prequels following on from the parent franchise. That means there’s no need to introduce any kind of 'Machete Order' – yet – though if we get some massive revelation in Fantastic Beasts 3, 4 and 5, that may change. Fantastic Beasts 3 starts shooting early in 2020, ahead of a 2021 release.

It’s also interesting to note that there are more Harry Potter movies than there are books, with seventh instalment The Deathly Hallows split into two parts (a trick repeated by Twilight and The Hunger Games) because there was so much story to fit in. We’re sure the extra box office didn’t hurt either…

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) 
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
  • Fantastic Beasts 3 (2021)

How to watch Harry Potter movies online

In the US, the eight Harry Potter movies are available to rent on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, and more. Peacock recently had the rights to stream the movies, but they were removed in late March 2021 – hopefully they'll return at some point. 

In the UK, you can't currently stream the movies, but you can rent them on Amazon, iTunes and more. The complete Harry Potter series is also available on Blu-Ray.

Harry Potter movies ranked

Fantastic Beasts movies in order Harry Potter

The first Fantastic Beasts movie is certainly better than the second. (Image credit: Warner Bros)

As with the Harry Potter books, opinions on which entries in the series are the best are incredibly varied and subjective. Indeed, ranking the Harry Potter movies by their IMDb user scores reveals a remarkable consistency in fan response, with all eight instalments clustered between 7.4 and 8.1 out of 10. 

The two Fantastic Beasts movies are noticeably the least loved entries in the Wizarding World, a fact perhaps reflected by the second movie's drop in box office. The most successful of the two, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, made more money than just one of the Potter movies (Prisoner of Azkaban), but seeing as it had 12 years of inflation on its side, it’s debatable whether it actually outperformed the earlier film.