Adventure Movies

15 Best Movies Like ‘Harry Potter’ to Watch For a Magical Adventure

February 15, 202414 Mins Read

Based on J. K. Rowling‘s acclaimed fantasy novel series, the Harry Potter films have become a quintessential hallmark of 21st-century cinema, following the titular Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends through their adventures at Hogwarts. The franchise is still adored by a sizable fandom over ten years since the eighth and final movie was released, and moviegoers’ appetite for wondrous and magical adventures remains firmly intact.

Thankfully, there have been plenty of movies like Harry Potter that can satisfy the itch of all Potterheads. Ranging from box office blockbuster sensations to underrated gems, each of these 15 films has an enchanting allure that stems from a mesmerizing story world of fantasy and magic and narrative dedication to adventure and friendship.

15 ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ (2010)

Directed by John Turteltaub

A sorcerer, Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), mentors a young apprentice in David Stutler (Jay Baruchel).
Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

While it hasn’t aged as one of Disney’s most revered family adventures in recent years, 2010’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice still has plenty to offer as a charming, kid-friendly blockbuster that makes good use of an exceptional ensemble cast. It focuses on the bond between Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), a centuries-old wizard who was an apprentice to Merlin (James A. Stephens), and David Stutler (Jay Baruchel), a college kid who is revealed to be Merlin’s descendant and Balthazar’s last hope against a growing evil.

Cage operates at his performative, effervescent best, and his chemistry with Baruchel is surprisingly strong, especially as they are supported by a cast that includes Alfred Molina, Monica Bellucci, Teresa Palmer, and Alice Krige. While it didn’t re-invent the genre and has faced some criticism for its narrative clichés, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a breezily fun fantasy adventure with an emphasis on its central friendship which is suitable for all Potterheads.

Watch on Disney+

14 ‘Seventh Son’ (2014)

Directed by Sergei Bodrov

A cloaked wizard walks with his mast while a young man walks along behind him.
Image via Universal Pictures

Combining an all-star cast with a blockbuster budget, plenty of fantasy intrigue, and the ambitious recruitment of acclaimed Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov, Seventh Son didn’t end up being the barnstorming epic it had been conceived as. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it was terrible. Loosely based on Joseph Delaney‘s The Spook’s Apprentice, it takes place in 16th century Europe as the powerful though young Thomas Ward (Ben Barnes) works with witch hunter Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) to vanquish an all-conquering evil.

With Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Olivia Williams, Djimon Hounsou, and Kit Harrington making up the supporting cast, Seventh Son‘s release was marred by poor reviews and an unsteady release schedule. Granted, it’s not the greatest movie ever made, but it still offers plenty of magical action thrills that are serviceable for viewers craving an exciting fantasy escape.

Seventh Son

Release Date
February 6, 2015

Sergey Bodrov

102 minutes

Rent on Amazon

13 ‘Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief’ (2010)

Directed by Chris Columbus

A teenage boy stands in a museum with a shield with two of his friends behind him looking up at something.
Image via 20th Century Fox

Coming from Chris Columbus, the director of the first two Harry Potter movies, the first of the Percy Jackson movies has become something of a cherished cult classic based on Rick Riordan‘s popular debut novelThe Lightning Thief. It focuses on Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), a teenager with dyslexia who learns he is a demigod when he is accused of stealing Zeus’s (Sean Bean) master lightning bolt and is tasked with returning it to prevent the tumultuous relations between the Gods from spiraling to all-out war.

Like the Harry Potter films, it follows a young protagonist buoyed by two incredibly loyal friends who join him on a spellbinding magical adventure that meshes the modern world with high fantasy. While the film drew some criticism for its departure from its source material, it did earn a sequel in 2013’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, while Riordan’s novel series has recently been the subject of a television adaptation which was recently renewed for a second season.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Lightning Thief

Release Date
February 1, 2010


Watch on Disney+

12 ‘Doctor Strange’ (2016)

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange casts a spell while in training in Doctor Strange.
Image via Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is arguably the only film series of the 21st century thus far to surpass the influence and pop-culture impact of the Harry Potter films. As the MCU’s resident sorcerer, Doctor Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) films present a magical high point of the superhero franchise, with the 2016 origin film more aligned with the sense of fantasy spectacle and blockbuster fun of Harry Potter compared to the much darker Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

In the wake of a catastrophic accident that damages his hands beyond repair, Doctor Strange follows its titular neurosurgeon as he endeavors to find a cure for his ailment, a trek which leads him to Kamar-Taj and the guidance of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Its engagement with its magical elements was its defining quality, making Doctor Strange an appropriately wondrous blockbuster for all fans yearning for more movie magic.

Doctor Strange

Release Date
November 4, 2016

Scott Derrickson

115 minutes

11 ‘Upside-Down Magic’ (2020)

Directed by Joe Nassbaum

A young girl in a pink jacket holds up a cat as she looks into its eyes.
Image via Disney Channel

A Disney Channel original film, 2020’s Upside-Down Magic is a terrific film for younger fans of the Harry Potter movies. It tells the tale of two young best friends who learn they have magical abilities, with Nory (Izabela Rose) capable of transforming into animals while Reina (Siena Agudong) can control fire. While Reina excels with her powers, Nory faces issues with hers and is placed in the Upside-Down Magic program to safeguard her from the Shadow Magic, an evil entity that possesses those with imperfect abilities.

It boasted a central idea of overcoming and embracing one’s unique qualities, while also showcasing the importance of friendship. Taking plenty of inspiration from Harry Potter, it also made exceptional use of the wondrous setting of Sage Academy as a school for magical youths, one haunted by a mysterious and dark evil. With a post-credits scene teasing more to come, Upside-Down Magic could expand into a larger franchise, though there has been no word on a potential sequel.

Watch on Disney+

10 ‘Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium’ (2007)

Directed by Zach Helm

A smartly dressed and eccentric man leans back on the counter while a store clerk potters behind him.
Image via 20th Century Fox

Taking the fantasy wonder and magical intrigue of Harry Potter and plonking it in a toy store, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium was an immersive, feel-good flick about the power of self-belief. It focuses on Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman), an aspiring concert pianist who works at the titular toy shop under the eccentric, 243-year-old Mr. Magnorium (Dustin Hoffman). When Mr. Magnorium declares his intent to pass ownership of the store over to Molly, she begins to worry as the store’s magic starts to fade during the transition.

The underrated 2000s family film was aimed at younger audiences and, as a result, there are a few narrative pitfalls that adults may get caught up on that kids would simply ignore. That being said, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium still contains a great deal of fantasy wonder, charming sentiment, and visual pizzazz to be a fun-filled adventure that rises to a rewarding, if not somewhat predictable, grand finale.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Release Date
November 14, 2007


Buy on Apple TV

9 ‘Stardust’ (2007)

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Yvaine (Claire Danes), a fallen star, clutches onto Tristan's (Charlie Cox) arm in a large room with broken glass everywhere.
Image via Paramount Pictures

One of the more underrated fantasy films of the 21st century and a truly brilliant outing from director Michael Vaughn, Stardust was a magical, fairy tale adventure inspired by the novel by Neil Gaiman. An elaborate story, it predominantly takes place in the fantasy land of Wall, a guarded realm in the English countryside. Its main thread follows Tristan (Charlie Cox), a young Englishman who ventures into Wall to retrieve a fallen star for his beloved, but his journey takes many unexpected turns along the way.

With a vast array of excellent characters brought to life by a dazzling ensemble cast which included Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Claire Danes, Mark Strong, and a pre-fame Henry Cavill among many more, Stardust was a spectacular, fun-filled adventure. Its blending of fantasy and real-world settings struck a similar balance as the Harry Potter films, while its touches of comedy, romance, adventure, and action gave it an accessible and enjoyable atmosphere as well.


Release Date
August 10, 2007

Matthew Vaughn

127 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

8 ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ (2018)

Directed by Eli Roth

A young boy, his uncle, and their neighbour stand before a creepy mantlepiece in a darkened room.
Image via Universal Studios

With gore maestro Eli Roth directing, and a screenplay from The Boys creator Erik Kripke, it is perhaps a surprise that The House with a Clock in Its Walls was such an accessible and endearing dose of family-friendly fantasy. It follows Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) who, following the death of his parents in a car accident, moves to live with his uncle Jonathan (Jack Black), who is secretly a warlock. With help from their neighbor, a powerful witch in Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), Lewis and Jonathan try to find a hidden clock capable of bringing about the end of the world.

Appealing to children and adults, the film imbues its adventure story with deft and clever uses of comedy and even horror, making for a fun-loving flick defined by its accessible tone. Both Black and Blanchett are fantastic in their roles, and their chemistry together as feuding friends is sublime, while the story plays with a similar sense of wonder and underlying family tragedy that made Harry Potter so enrapturing.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Release Date
September 15, 2018

Eli Roth


Rent on Apple TV

7 ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ (2019)

Directed by Joe Cornish

Four dirtied kids pressed up warm look down at the camera as clouds hand low in the sky behind them.
Image via 20th Century Fox

An overlooked modern gem plucked straight from Arthurian legend, The Kid Who Would Be King was a refreshing, vibrant, and exciting fantasy adventure. Set in modern-day London, it follows a boy starting secondary school as he discovers Excalibur and enlists his friends to become knights of the Round Table. With an ancient evil regaining power, Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) and his classmates unite with an old wizard to fight against an enchantress who will enslave Britain.

With the young heroes, its mixing of modern reality and mythological magic, and its action spectacle, The Kid Who Would Be King has a similar appeal as the Harry Potter movies. However, it does intelligently skew away from the Chosen One narrative, making Alex an ordinary boy who needs to earn Excalibur through merit. With Patrick Stewart portraying Merlin while Rebecca Ferguson was the villainous Morgana, the film was an effective fantasy adventure.

The Kid Who Would Be King

Release Date
January 16, 2019

Joe Cornish


Watch on Disney+

6 ‘Matilda’ (1996)

Directed by Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, and Mara Wilson as The Wormwood's in Matilda.
image via Sony Pictures Classics

An iconic adaptation of Roald Dahl‘s equally famous children’s novel of the same name, Matilda remains an adored classic of family entertainment which is faithful to the source material. Directed and co-produced by Danny DeVito (who also co-stars), it tells the tale of young Matilda (Mara Wilson), an intelligent girl saddened by a difficult relationship with her family while also falling victim to the cruel and sadistic school principal, Miss Trunchbull (Pam Terris). However, when Matilda learns she has telekinetic powers, she starts to act as an agent of karma.

Roald Dahl’s comedic instincts almost always had a dark cynicism about them, one that DeVito excelled at capturing in a manner that was delightfully twisted and effective without ever being confronting. Matilda‘s magical prowess gave it an effortlessly enchanting aura, one which combined beautifully with its appetite for poetic justice to be a rewarding watch for kids and adults alike.


Release Date
August 2, 1996

Danny DeVito


5 ‘The Craft’ (1996)

Directed by Andrew Fleming

Nancy Downs (Fairuza Bulk) stands in a doorway dressed in all black with a judgmental look on her face.
Image via Columbia Pictures

Something of a dark alternative to Harry Potter, The Craft had a similar focus on young spellcasters in school but did something completely different with the concept. It follows Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney), a teenage girl with magical powers who attends a new school and befriends three social outcasts who are also, secretly, witches. As they begin experimenting with spells as a coven, they start to obsess over what they can do with their growing powers.

While Robin’s grounded moral compass ensures that things don’t spiral too chaotically out of control, The Craft still offers more than a glimpse at what a dark Harry Potter franchise could have looked like, especially when sorcerers mingle with those without magic. A cult classic meshing of fantasy, horror, and teen dramedy, The Craft has gradually grown in popularity over the decades and even received a loosely connected sequel, The Craft: Legacy, in 2020.

Rent on Amazon

4 ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ (1971)

Directed by Robert Stevenson

Miss Price (Angela Lansbury) and three kids stand with animated characters in 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' (1971)
Image via Buena Vista Distribution

A mesmerizing marriage of live-action and animation, Bedknobs and Broomsticks stands as a Disney classic even though it has long lived in the shadow of Mary Poppins. Set during the Blitz of 1940, it follows three children who have been sent to live with an apprentice witch, Miss Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury). The kids, Miss Price, and her witchcraft mentor Emelius Brown (David Tomlinson) embark on a quest to defeat the Nazis, flying around on an enchanted bed that takes them on an outrageous adventure.

A cheerful and charming dose of Disney family entertainment, Bedknobs and Broomsticks had a central focus on magical adventure and brought it to life with spellbinding animation and a vast array of wonderful characters. It continues to thrive as a classic family adventure today and makes for a great option for Harry Potter fans with an interest in older movies.

Watch on Disney+

3 ‘Teen Witch’ (1989)

Directed by Dorian Walker

Two high schoolers dance together at the prom in 'Teen Witch' (1989)
Image via Trans World Entertainment

A fantasy, high school romance realized in a way that can only be described as all-out 1980s, Teen Witch ran with a simple story of young love and magic. Louise Miller (Robyn Lively) is a 15-year-old schoolgirl in love with school quarterback Brad Powell (Dan Gauthier), but she struggles to make him notice her, especially as he is involved with one of the cheerleaders. However, when Louise learns she is the descendant of the witches of Salem, she begins using magic to get what she wants.

While the film sometimes toes a problematic line (which wouldn’t have been at all out of place for the 80s), it does handle Louise’s manipulation of magic with maturity and grace as she turns into a powerful witch in the movie. Focusing on how Louise’s excitement gradually turns to shock and even fear at what she is capable of with her powers, Teen Witch is a schlocky though enjoyable magical adventure.

Watch on Amazon Prime

2 ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ (2016)

Directed by Tim Burton

The cast of 'Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children' (2016)
Image via 20th Century Fox

A recent triumph from Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children excelled as a mixture of the filmmaker’s trademark offbeat style and a charming, quirky narrative of found family and magic. The fantasy adventure follows a teenager, Jake (Asa Butterfield), as he discovers a home for children with supernatural abilities run by the strict yet caring headmistress, Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). With the dangers mounting as he learns more about the residents and their powers, Jake agrees to help them protect their home from a terrifying force known as the “Hollowgasts.”

Whatever lulls are present in the narrative are compensated for by a striking and mesmerizing visual display that accentuates the off-kilter tone and the suitably peculiar sense of familial warmth. Complemented by a note-perfect performance from Green, the film should appeal to all Harry Potter fans with its wholesome tone and magical thrills.

1 ‘Escape to Witch Mountain’ (1975)

Directed by John Hough

Two young kids hug an old widower in front of his Winnebago Motor Home in 'Escape From Witch Mountain' (1975)
Image via Buena Vista Distributions

A tale of young orphans cast amid a world of peril, Escape to Witch Mountain is a brilliant and timeless story of the purity of kids within a greedy and opportunistic world. It focuses on Tia (Kim Richards) and Tony Malone (Ike Eisenmann), two orphaned siblings with magical abilities who become the obsession of Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland), a ruthless multi-millionaire who wants to exploit the children to increase his wealth. As they are pursued by Bolt and his goons, the kids find an unlikely ally in Jason O’Day (Eddie Albert), a crotchety old widower who lives in a Winnebago Motor Home.

A good option for fantasy fans who want a different spin on magical kids, Escape to Witch Mountain offered an intriguing explanation for the Malones’ abilities while presenting a story that was both fun and thrilling. Audience interest in the story has lingered as well, with the film earning a direct sequel and a television spin-off, while it has more recently been remade as Race to Witch Mountain starring Dwayne Johnson.

Watch on Disney+

NEXT: The Best Fantasy Movies of All Time, Ranked

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