Yes, Warner Bros.’ search for a new franchise to take over from the incredibly lucrative Harry Potter series has led them, well, back to Harry Potter. But before you pour yourself a Butterbeer and raise a toast to this oh so glorious news, there is a catch.
The Studio will indeed be teaming up with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling for a new series of movies set in the wizarding world, but they will not be a continuation of our favourite thunderbolt-scarred wizard but rather stem from the Hogwarts textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and the adventures of the book’s fictitious author, Newt Scamander.
“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,” said Rowling. “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.”
Speaking of their new found partnership, which will feature Rowling’s first foray into screenwriting, Kevin Tsujihara, Chief Executive Officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment said, “We are incredibly honoured that Jo has chosen to partner with Warner Bros. on this exciting new exploration of the world of wizardry which has been tremendously successful across all of our businesses. She is an extraordinary writer, who ignited a reading revolution around the world, which then became an unprecedented film phenomenon. We know that audiences will be as excited as we are to see what her brilliant and boundless imagination conjures up for us.”
In addition to the film series, “Fantastic Beasts” will also be developed across the Studio’s video game, consumer products and digital initiatives businesses, including enhanced links with Pottermore.com, Rowling’s digital online experience built around the Harry Potter stories.
The Studio’s expanded partnership with Rowling also covers the continued expansion of its Harry Potter activities, including the wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks in conjunction with partner Universal Parks and Resorts (currently in Orlando, FL; opening in Hollywood, CA and Osaka, Japan), digital initiatives (including Pottermore), video games, consumer products and visitor attractions.
In addition, Warner Bros. will serve as the worldwide TV distributor (excluding the U.K.) of J.K. Rowling’s upcoming television adaptation for the BBC of “The Casual Vacancy,” her best-selling first novel aimed at adult audiences. This miniseries begins production in 2014.
“I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about,” Rowling quipped. “And this is it.”
Image: Daniel Ogren