"There's a very strong literature in Great Britain of school stories, a really enormous number of them," he says. "One Hoovered those up when one was little. I found myself remembering those stories and how they worked. ... In terms of tone, [I found] a way of making the material personal. It wasn't popular to do this great overall sweep: That had been done before me. But it was possible on some level to make it about my school and my schooldays."
Newell says he had hoped to bring a darker tone to the franchise, but upon seeing Alfonso Cuaron's work on Prisoner of Azkaban, he realized it'd been done. He says, "Of course, what I had wanted to do was introduce the darker adolescent tone myself and found to my horror that Alfonso had gotten there before me and with great style and determination. And so I think there is a kind of tap dance between the mixture the audience wants, which of course is determined by the books."
And what about that whole thing about splitting Goblet of Fire into two films? "[Screenwriter] Steve [Kloves] wasn't sure what to do with the material he would have had to dispense with in order to make the first one ... coherent enough for a whole second film," says Newell.
Newell says that the Hogwarts boys take a particular interest in the Beauxbaton schoolgirls. He says, "The girls' costumes drive the Hogwart boys absolutely mad." Wizard hormones will be raging.
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