Warner Bros. is back in business with author J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter’s world of wizardry will return to the big screen with an all-new series of films as a result, designed to captivate a new generation of children and provide a new revenue stream for the studio.
In a huge announcement made this morning, Warner Bros. sealed an “expanded creative partnership” deal with J.K. Rowling that will include, amongst other things, the author’s first foray into the world of screenwriting. Rowling will write the screenplay for a film set within the world of witches and wizards that follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, the fictional author of Harry Potter’s textbook ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.’
Rowling will be penning the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay as an original story so unlike the eight previous Potter films, it will not be based off a preexisting book. As fans might expect, Warner Bros. plans to turn this film into a franchise of its own and familiar characters from the Harry Potter world will be featured in some capacity.
This is a crucial move for Warner Bros. as their theatrical unit took a hit when the money flush Harry Potter franchise came to a close. They have two more The Hobbit films to come out and the Superman sequel, but Legendary will soon be leaving so extending the Harry Potter franchise with this spinoff is as good as printing money to deposit in their bank accounts.
“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,” stated Rowling in the press release. “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.”
Rowling also adds that Warner Bros. originally came to her with the idea to turn Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them into a film with another writing penning the story. The more Rowling stewed on the idea, she began to forge her own idea of how Newt Scamander’s life would unfold. Instead, she went back to Warner Bros. and pitchered her own idea, which they obviously jumped at.
Warner Bros. will take full advantage of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and develop a tie-in video game (or more), digital initiatives (i.e. Pottermore) and consumer products. If Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which it should be, I would expect to see it have a presence at the Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks in Orlando, FL and future locations in Hollywood, CA and Osaka, Japan.
We don’t know how far along Rowling’s idea is or whether she’s even begun the actual screenplay. Rowling is a stickler for detail so she’s probably got mountains of notes and ideas to work off of.
Somewhere, out there, some lucky young boy or man will be cast in the role of Newt Scamander and his life will be forever changed.