When a studio has the most successful film franchise of all time on its resume, it’s safe to say that even the end of the series won’t stop the executives from trying to squeeze some more money out of it. (See: splitting the final book into two movies.) In the case of Harry Potter, Warner Bros. has much more than movies at stake: there are merchandising deals and theme parks to consider, too. This is one of their defining brands. Since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two hit theaters two years ago, the studio has been exploring ways to keep the wizarding world alive on screen, and now they’ve found it.
THR reports that original series author J.K. Rowling has signed on to write the screenplay for the first film in a Harry Potter spin-off series called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, based on the Hogwarts textbook Harry and his classmates read. The story will follow the adventures of the fictional book’s author, Newt Scamander, and feature creatures that are familiar to those who have read the original Potter series or watched the films. Rowling had this to say:
“Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.”
So we can expect a Depression-era setting in New York, which should at least provide some excellent production design if absolutely nothing else. But since Rowling is actually the one writing the screenplay, we’re optimistic that this will actually be a pretty fun ride. After all, the author already has more than enough money, so this certainly isn’t a paycheck gig for her – I’ve heard she donates most of her earnings to charity anyway – so this is a case of Rowling looking to expand her legacy, and I’m sure she’ll put everything she has into making sure it lines up creatively with her original Potter adventures.
Fantastic Beasts is set to be developed into a video game as well as “consumer products and digital initiatives.” Plus, Rowling is partnering with Warner Bros. TV, who will distribute her upcoming BBC adaptation of “The Casual Vacancy,” the best-selling novel she wrote for adults. Might we see an early incarnation of Albus Dumbledore or some other familiar faces in the Fantastic Beasts movie along with the creatures already promised? We’ll have to wait and see.
What do you think about new movies set in the Harry Potter universe?
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