I watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the other night with some friends, after re-reading the book a few days earlier. I am shocked at how much was changed. The movie was fine. I never really noticed the changes a year earlier in the theatres and thoroughly enjoyed it. Watching it right after reading it, however, the differences stick out. Sometimes they’re petty — Hermione slaps Malfoy in the book, punches in the movie — and sometimes they’re more substantial. JKR tells an elaborate story of how — for a few people — Sirius is finally proved innocent; the movie took too many short cuts.
All of this made me wonder: I know this story already. I know the background to something that happens for only a few seconds or is in the background of the shot. How much sense did the movie make to someone who hadn’t read the book? How much more (if any) would someone get from watching it again after having finally read the book?
Final thought: if they did all this editing for POA, what will they do to GOF or OOTP? There is too much to cut in GOF/OOTP. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.