Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) Plot
Spending the summer with the Dursleys, Harry Potter meets Dobby, a house-elf who warns him that it is dangerous to return to Hogwarts. Dobby sabotages an important dinner for the Dursleys, who lock up Harry to prevent his return to Hogwarts. Harry’s friend Ron Weasley and his brothers Fred and George rescue him in their father’s flying Ford Anglia.
In Diagon Alley, Harry and the Weasley family are joined by Hermione Granger at a book-signing by Gilderoy Lockhart, Hogwarts’ new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Confronted by Draco Malfoy, Harry notices Malfoy’s father, Lucius, slip a book into Ginny Weasley’s cauldron. When Harry and Ron are blocked from entering Platform Nine and Three-Quarters at London King’s Cross railway station, they take the flying car to Hogwarts; after crashing into the Whomping Willow breaking Ron’s wand, they receive detention.
In detention, Harry hears a strange voice and later finds caretaker Argus Filch’s cat, Mrs Norris, petrified beside a message written in blood: “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened, enemies of the heir… beware.” Professor McGonagall explains that one of Hogwarts’ founders, Salazar Slytherin, supposedly constructed a secret Chamber containing a monster that only his heir can control, capable of purging the school of Muggle-born students. Suspecting that Malfoy is the heir, Harry, Ron, and Hermione plan to question him while disguised, using forbidden polyjuice potion, which they brew in a disused bathroom haunted by a ghost called Moaning Myrtle.
During a Quidditch game, Harry’s arm is broken by a rogue Bludger. Dobby visits him in the infirmary and reveals that he closed the barrier to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters and made the Bludger chase Harry to force him to leave the school. He also reveals that the Chamber had been opened in the past. When Harry communicates with a snake, the school believes he is the heir. Disguised as two of Malfoy’s friends, Harry and Ron learn he is not the heir, but come to know that his father had told him that a Muggle-born girl died when the Chamber was last opened.
Harry finds an enchanted diary owned by former student Tom Riddle, who opened the Chamber and blamed Rubeus Hagrid, leading to his expulsion. When the diary is stolen and Hermione is petrified, Harry and Ron question Hagrid. Professor Dumbledore, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, and Lucius arrive to take Hagrid to Azkaban, but he discreetly tells the boys to “follow the spiders”. In the Forbidden Forest, Harry and Ron meet Hagrid’s giant pet spider, Aragog, who reveals Hagrid’s innocence and provides a clue about the Chamber’s monster.
A book page in Hermione’s hand identifies the monster as a basilisk, a giant serpent that kills people who make direct eye contact with it; the petrified victims only saw it indirectly. The school staff learns Ginny has been taken into the Chamber, and nominate Lockhart to save her. Harry and Ron find Lockhart preparing to flee, exposing him as a fraud. Deducing that Myrtle was the Muggle-born girl that the basilisk killed, they find the Chamber’s entrance in the bathroom she haunts. Once inside, Lockhart tries to stop Harry and Ron by using a memory charm, but because he seized Ron’s broken wand, the spell backfires, erasing Lockhart’s memory and causing a cave-in which separates Harry from Ron and Lockhart.
Harry enters the Chamber alone and finds Ginny unconscious, guarded by Riddle. Riddle reveals that he used the diary to manipulate Ginny into reopening the Chamber, and that he is Slytherin’s heir and Voldemort’s younger self. After Harry expresses his loyalty to Dumbledore, the latter’s pet phoenix Fawkes arrives with the Sorting Hat, causing Riddle to summon the basilisk. Fawkes blinds the basilisk, and the Sorting Hat produces the Sword of Gryffindor, with which Harry battles the basilisk. After a struggle, he kills it but is poisoned by one of its fangs.
Despite his injury, Harry stabs the diary with the basilisk fang, destroying Riddle and reviving Ginny. Fawkes’ tears heal Harry, and he returns to Hogwarts with his friends and a baffled Lockhart, earning Dumbledore’s praise and Hagrid’s release. Harry accuses Lucius, Dobby’s master, of planting the diary in Ginny’s cauldron, and tricks him into freeing Dobby. The basilisk’s victims are healed, Hermione reunites with Harry and Ron, and Hagrid is released from Azkaban.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) Box office
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets held its world premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on 3 November 2002, and was released in the United Kingdom and the United States on 15 November 2002. The film broke multiple records upon its opening. In the US and Canada, the film opened to an $88.4million opening weekend at 3,682 cinemas, the third-largest opening at the time, behind Spider-Man and its predecessor Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The film would hold the record for having the largest number of screenings until it was surpassed by X2 the next year. It was also No. 1 at the box office for two non-consecutive weekends. In the United Kingdom, the film broke all opening records that were previously held by Philosopher’s Stone. It made £18.9million during its opening including previews and £10.9million excluding previews.  It went on to make £54.8million in the UK; at the time, the fifth-biggest tally of all time in the region.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was the second 2002 film to return to the number one spot, just after Mel Gibson’s Signs. The film joined Die Another Day and The Santa Clause 2 to outperform the weak opening of Treasure Planet. Both Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Die Another Day were the most recent films to reclaim the number one spot for six months until June 2003 when Finding Nemo became the next film to do so.
Internationally, the film earned $59.5 million during its opening weekend. The film earned $3.7 million in Japan, making it the highest opening of any film in the country until it was surpassed a year later by The Matrix Reloaded. In Malaysia, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets made a total of $474,000, breaking Eraser‘s record for having the country’s biggest opening for any Warner Bros. film.
It would go on to generate a total of $1.03 million in Singapore, becoming the second-highest film opening in the country, after The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Meanwhile, the film earned $3.1 million in Taiwan, surpassing The Mummy Returns by 16%. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets would then gross over $1.15 million in the Philippines, ranking as an industry high in the country only 5% bigger than Godzilla.
The film made a total of $879.8million worldwide. It was the second-highest-grossing film of 2002 worldwide behind The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and the fourth highest-grossing film in the US and Canada that year with $262.6 million behind Spider-Man, The Two Towers, and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. However, it was the year’s number one film outside of America, making $617.2million compared to The Two Towers‘ $584.5million.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) Critical reception
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 82% based on 238 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Though perhaps more enchanting for younger audiences, Chamber of Secrets is nevertheless both darker and livelier than its predecessor, expanding and improving upon the first film’s universe.” On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare “A+”, the only film in the Harry Potter series to receive such grade.
Roger Ebert gave The Chamber of Secrets 4 out of 4 stars, especially praising the set design. Entertainment Weekly commended the film for being better and darker than its predecessor: “And among the things this Harry Potter does very well indeed is deepen the darker, more frightening atmosphere for audiences. This is as it should be: Harry’s story is supposed to get darker”.
Richard Roeper praised Columbus’ direction and the film’s faithfulness to the book, saying: “Chris Columbus, the director, does a real wonderful job of being faithful to the story but also taking it into a cinematic era”. Variety said the film was excessively long, but praised it for being darker and more dramatic, saying that its confidence and intermittent flair to give it a life of its own apart from the books was something The Philosopher’s Stone never achieved. The Guardian praised the darker storyline, but said that the acting could have been better.
A. O. Scott from The New York Times said: “instead of feeling stirred you may feel battered and worn down, but not, in the end, too terribly disappointed”. Peter Travers from Rolling Stone condemned the film for being over-long and too faithful to the book: “Once again, director Chris Columbus takes a hat-in-hand approach to Rowling that stifles creativity and allows the film to drag on for nearly three hours”. Kenneth Turan from the Los Angeles Times called the film a cliché which is “deja vu all over again, it’s likely that whatever you thought of the first production – pro or con – you’ll likely think of this one”.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) Accolades
Chamber of Secrets was nominated for three BAFTA Awards: Best Production Design, Best Sound, and Best Special Visual Effects. The film was also nominated for six Saturn Awards. It received two nominations at the inaugural Visual Effects Society Awards. The Broadcast Film Critics Association granted it the Best Family Film and Best Composer awards, and nominated it for Best Digital Acting Performance (for Toby Jones).