Harry Potter and Philosopher's Stone?

I have recently moved from the US to Canada and was visiting the video store with a friend and since he had not seen Harry Potter and I enjoyed the movie very much, we decided to rent it. After we got home, I noticed that the title of the movie was “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, and throughout the movie, the stone was referred to as the “philosopher’s stone”. I looked into it and every piece of Harry Potter merchandise, including the movies, the toys, the books, the posters, and everything is marked 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone".

I did some searching online and everything I can find has the book/movie listed under what I saw it as in the US, which is “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone”. Why the difference? What is the big difference between the words “philosopher” and “sorcerer” that would cause the marketing machine to go through the expense of changing the dialogue in the movie and all of the related merchandise?

-Befuddled in Vancouver

I haven’t read the books, but, as I understand it, the English publishers of the books thought Americans would not understand the reference to the Philosopher’s Stone. Hence, the book is called “Sorceror’s Stone” in this country, but “Philosopher’s Stone” everywhere else.
I hope this is the correct explanation.

BTW, welcome to the SDMB.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it, but renaming it Sorcerer’s Stone let all of the usual right-wing born again yobos screech and bleat about how it was all a plot to lure kids to Satan.

It wasn’t all that big a deal, really. My understanding is that, while they were shooting the movie, they would shoot two versions of any scene that referred to the stone by name: one with “Sorcerer’s” for America, one with “Philosopher’s” for everywhere else. It’s no big thing to film a scene twice with a little dialog change.

Still, I think it’s rather goofy that Scholastic felt they needed to change the title for an American audience. But the decision was made long ago, and it’s water under the bridge now.

A while back, someone posted a link to a web page containing lengthy, thorough comparisons between the US and British versions of the Harry Potter books, with all differences noted. Anyone remember where that is?

I think the phrase “philosopher’s stone” is also probably more common in Britain than in the US. At least, I’ve rarely heard it used.

From the web sources I was able to find, however, (Warner Bros UK), it was known as the Sorcerer’s stone in Britain as well. We have any Teemers in the UK that can verify this? If so it makes it quite a mystery why Canada is the only place with a philosopher’s stone.

Also, considering the cost of filming (the film itself is ungodly expensive, not to mention salaries for crews, cast, etc) that it seems like filming two sets of dialogue for the relevant scenes would be redundant and costly. I can’t imagine that the change would garner more revenue for them (at least that would make up for the cost).

-Still Befuddled in Vancouver

My impression was that it was 'Philosopher’s Stone" in every English-speaking market except the USA. Although we got some imported US “Sorceror’s Stone” merchandise here in Canada, the vast bulk of the merchandise, and the movie itself, used “Philosopher’s Stone”.

From imdb.com , about the movie “The Madness of King George”:

It was “Philosopher’s Stone” in Australia too. I too read that “Sorcerer’s Stone” was only used in the US. (Sounds a little patronising to American audiences, actually.)

Web page comparing the 2:

From webpage:
“When the Philosopher’s Stone was released in the US it was renamed the Sorcerer’s Stone… presumably to make it sound more magic orientated rather than philosophy orientated!”

Yahoo is more helpful:

Welcome to the SDMB, Jamye

Since this is about a movie and book, I’ll send this thread to our arts forum, Cafe Society.

brit doper here! It was indeed called ‘philosopher’s stone’ here, both in book and film versions. the change to sorceror really bugged me because the philosopher’s stone is a ‘true’ mythical artifact, searched for by alchemists over the eons for it’s supposed ability to turn lead into gold… a sorceror’s stone is … well, a rock belonging to any sorceror!

an analogy for why this annoys me… it as if, in a film connected with arthurian legends, they decided to call his sword ‘Slasher’ instead of ‘Excalibur’… if you’re going to use a myth, at least try and get the words right… (don’t even get me started on Disney’s Hercules…)

No please go on… What a bout Hercules. I haven’t seen it.

Sadly, there’s plenty of truth to this viewpoint. For example, when Malcom X came out on video, people always came into my store asking to see Malcom 10; some even wondered if they needed to see the previous nine. American people can be so stupid…

But in any event, I can’t see why Philosopher was changed to Sorcerer in select markets. Sounds to me like wasted work; did they really think kids would be so put off by “Philosopher” that they wouldn’t buy a book with “Harry Potter” in the title? Hogwash - or Hogwarts, I suppose.

Well, since it was the first book, kids didn’t know who Harry Potter was, so why would they bother? They see the word ‘sorceror’ and become intrigued.

well… no I won’t start here, because it would constitute a major hijack… suffice to say that the only relation between the film and the myths I studied in school was:

  1. the main characters name.
  2. He was the son of zeus.
  3. The story is set in ancient greece.

that’s pretty much it… the original story is much better, more tragic, MUCH more gory…

I’ll stop now :smiley:

Yes, but it’s the movie that had the changed name, right, not the book? And when the movie came out, obviously, the book had long been out, and presumably all those who had read that first book were not put off by “philosopher’s” in the title. Or am I mistaken?

Dan, my husband’s copy of Harry Potter and the stone is question is titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

We’re very much American.


Well, now I’m really confused. :confused:

Does this mean that there are two book titles as well as two movie titles? I was under the impression that the “philosopher >> sorcerer” change was made for the movie, but perhaps not.

The book’s title was changed to Sorcerer’s Stone in the US, and subsequently the movie title was also changed for the US.

Jamye, remember that in a major film, each scene is filmed dozens of times. Switching the words about in a few takes on a subset of the scenes doesn’t seem like such a big deal to me.