Harry Potter and the Warner Bros Franchise Opportunity

Yesterday was one of the most monumental moments in Nerd History since the announcement of Star Wars: Episode VII.

Warner Bros and J.K. Rowling are collaborating on expanding the Harry Potter Universe.

Wait, there’s more?

Just as George Lucas often disavowed any interest in returning to the Star Wars Universe, J.K. Rowling has spent the last several years stating that the Harry Potter series is done, completed, and will not be added to. Instead, she has been releasing adult fiction and enjoying a more quiet life.

Yesterday’s announcement stays true to Rowling’s word. The new film series, and other marketing tie-ins, will not expand the story of Harry Potter himself. Harry’s quest to defeat Voldemort is completed and finished, and his story ended. Instead, much as the Extended Universe of Star Wars has explored the expanse of that galaxy, this new series will go deeper into the nuances and lore J.K. Rowling built while writing the Harry Potter series.

This is not an extension of the Harry Potter story. This is an opportunity for Muggles to get an expanded glimpse into the world of Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, Platform 9 and 3/4, Quidditch, Norwegian Ridgeback Dragons, and the rest of the world of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Here is the press release from J.K. Rowling herself:

 “It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them into a film.  I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of Fantastic Beasts, realized by another writer was difficult.  Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. As hard-core Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood.

As I considered Warners’ proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros.

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.

I particularly want to thank Kevin Tsujihara of Warner Bros. for his support in this project, which would not have happened without him. I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.”

I do not believe Rowling is doing this for a paycheck. She already has more money than she knows what to do with, even after donating large sums to charity. She can pick and choose what she would like to do. If she did not want to return to the Potter sandbox, she does not need to.

I do believe she is genuinely engaged in the creative work, and, as she wrote, “The idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of Fantastic Beasts, realized by another writer was difficult.”

Being a writer myself (though not quite as successful as Rowling), I can identify with not wanting to send off my beloved characters to be written by another mind.  That mind has not lived with the character’s in their mind, does not know all the details of the character’s life history.

Will people be disappointed to not join Harry, Hermione, and Ron on another adventure?

Of course.

However, thanks to the magic of the Internet, we can always enjoy things like this:

The quality of the film, despite Rowling acting as Screenwriter, also depends on the director.

For example, here’s a quick run-down of the Harry Potter Film Franchise Directors:

Christopher Columbus (1,2)

Columbus built the visual world in The Sorcerer’s Stone (or, the Philosopher’s Stone for those of you in England), but lost much of the life and spirit of the books. The Chamber of Secrets was a better film, but still lacking.

Alfonso Cuaron (3)

Cuaron brought in the needed emotion, and added flourishes and shades of life, yet The Prisoner of Askaban has some moments that feel out of place.

Mike Newell (4)

Built a sturdy, though forgettable adaptation for The Goblet of Fire.

David Yates (5,6,7,7.5)

Beginning with The Order of the Phoenix, Yates balanced the spectacle and wonder of Potter’s world with the emotional journey at the core of the series. In the last four films, he captured the essence of the books while making something truly cinematic. (Also, he made wizard duels look super, super cool.)

In the words so often used to describe a fan’s feelings towards Star Wars: Episode VII, I am cautiously optimistic. Honestly, I would be more excited if this were a book series first, but I have faith in Rowling’s ability as a story-teller.

This could be spectacular.

SIDE NOTE 1

As a reference, here is my Excitementometer (a meter to measure how excited I am).

As you can see Harry Potter is not my absolute favorite thing in the universe (oh, how I love chocolate chip cookies), but it still ranks very high.

SIDE NOTE 2

Here is the letter Warner Bros should send to J.K. Rowling:

Dear Ms. Rowling,

Thank you for continuing the Harry Potter franchise. This will help balance our books, in case The Justice League falls apart. On the other hand, if the Justice League succeeds, we appreciate the addition of Harry Potter-related movies to compete with Star Wars.

In other words, thanks for helping us compete against Disney.

Thank you,

Warner Bros Management

Side Note 3

I won First Place in my Toastmasters Club’s Humorous Speech contest. I based the speech on this story. Now, I have to get ready for the District Level competition on September 28.

Yes, my computer tower also doubles as a trophy shelf.

Other Thoughts On The Next Venture Into the world of Witchcraft and Wizardry:

Warner Bros. Announces Expanded Creative Partnership With ‘Harry Potter’ author J.K. Rowling

JK Rowling to Write Screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling’s “Creative Partnership” and the New Potterverse Films: 7 Things We Know

Harry Potter Spin Off Is Happening. No Joke, This Is a Brilliant Idea

New Harry Potter-Inspired Movie Series By J.K. Rowling – Good Or???

JK Rowling to write ‘Harry Potter’ spin-off films

J.K. Rowling And Warner Bros Are Taking Fans Back To The Harry Potter Universe With An All New Film Series

__________________________________________________

How excited are you for this new venture into Harry Potter’s universe? Who do you think should direct it? If you could have any character in the new film series, who would it be? Are you still waiting for your letter of admission to Hogwarts?

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17 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Warner Bros Franchise Opportunity

  1. Ah yes, they too have figured out how to milk something to depletion, just like the 3 Hobbit movies.

    Why make 3 more movies on a short-story when you can make 10?

    Same goes with books Laura. Why write 1 book when you can split it up into like 10 to maximize profits?

  2. It’s pretty exciting news. And Rowling is a very talented author, which I hope will be translated properly to the big screen. Not like Peter Jackson did to The Hobbit – though, admittedly, it’s par for the course these days with the way the studios like to minimise risks.

  3. Congrats on the Toastmaster award! And I think anything Harry Potter will be a success, although Star Wars also had a few duds, like the Ewoks show back in the 80s–so, my words may be moot. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see something new in the Harry Potter world!

  4. Yes, congrats on your award! Awesome!
    I have the same Excitement-ometer! Twins separated at birth!
    I’m glad to know a new movie is in the works and that Rowling will be involved. I can’t blame her for wanting to work on her own creation.

    • Thanks! Also, I’m glad our excitement-ometer match so well – although I realized the other day that I forgot to include Star Trek – which would fall between Harry Potter and Doctor Who – though all three are pretty close together.
      As for Rowling, I am glad she is protecting the Potter series. I would worry about it in anyone else’s hands.

  5. Finally getting to this.

    My thoughts:
    I agree with you and Rowling – it would be SO hard for me to let someone else take control of a universe I’ve created. Lucas is older now, and so done with corporateness studioness of Hollywood, that I think he was at a good point. And I also agree that there’s no way she’s doing this for the paycheck.

    I disagree with you on directors. I thought the 4th movie was really good, and captured the intensity and drive of the books that had been missing in the previous 3 movies. I couldn’t stand movie 5 and 6 and I thought it lacked what I loved about HP (nevermind the added Weasley’s firey house scene in movie 6 that really made me mad). However, I loved movie 7 and 7.5, where I thought the director realized what audiences were after.

    I am excited about this movie because though I love Harry Potter, it’s not as dear to my heart as Star Wars. I’ll be disappointed, but okay if it’s not a fantastic movie.

    Secondly, I like how it’s not related to Potter at all and it gets to be a fresh take on the unexplored parts of the wizarding world that we couldn’t see because for most of the books, Harry, et al are in school, therefore only seeing Hogwarts. But I also believe that’s a double edged sword and I think a lot of fans will be wanting a HP feel to the movie and I think they’ll be disappointed. This movie could hold more adult themes and not feel so kid-like, and people will inevitable miss Harry and his friends. I like this though! I always believe that when the story is shut and done, that we should move away and open up a new aspect (hence my fears about SW VII-IX).

    It’s pretty high on my excitement-ometer, only because I really didn’t expect to see a MOVIE from the Potter world again! It definitely beats out my excitement about the Hobbit as I thought that would not be a good thing.

    Okay, I’m rambling, but I’m excited!

    • First, I am impressed with your dedication to reading this post.
      Second, the favorite Potter movie around the house is 7.5 – in which everything explodes. Now and then, my mom will pull it out just to watch the second half and the showdown between Potter and Voldemort.
      It’ll be exciting to see how these movies develop, and what tone they will take.

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