By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated September 05, 2001 08:18 AM

Shortly after Warner Bros. had purchased the movie rights to J.K. Rowling’s immensely successful Harry Potter series, the studio made no secret of the fact that it was wooing Steven Spielberg to direct the movie and turn it into a “Jurassic Park”-sized franchise. In fact, Warners (which, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner) even held up the picture’s start date until Spielberg made up his mind. Ultimately, Spielberg gave Harry a pass, and now, with the film in the can and set for a November release under the direction of “Home Alone” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” director Chris Columbus, Spielberg has broken his silence on the Potter project. He said it just wasn’t challenging enough for him to undertake. “I purposely didn’t do the Harry Potter movie because for me, that was shooting ducks in a barrel. It’s just a slam dunk,” Vanity Fair magazine quotes the filmmaker as saying. “It’s just like withdrawing a billion dollars and putting it into your personal bank accounts. There’s no challenge.” Spielberg, 54, also says the adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” held no interest for him because he likes to tell stories that are real. “I really believe that as I grow up, I have a responsibility to tell stories that are more authentic.”