On Thursday 12th September, Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling released a joint statement to announce that WB would be producing a new film set within the wizarding world of Harry Potter, and that this new film would be scripted by J.K. Rowling herself. (You can read the full press release on J.K. Rowling’s own website here.)
Rumours had begun to circulate earlier in the week that there was going to be a big reveal on a new Potter project but, on the whole, this has been a well-kept secret.
So, the project in question is to be an adaptation of Rowling’s 2001 book, Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them by Newt Scamander, written for Comic Relief of that year. It’s a textbook of sorts, used at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, referenced and indicated to be a facsimile of Harry Potter’s own school copy (complete with his graffiti throughout). It is, as its title suggests, a guide to beasts and creatures rare and common throughout the magic world; ‘Magizoology’ is the term coined here.
Whilst being quite a sudden and somewhat unanticipated headline-grabbing slice of news, this has the air of the inevitable about it, given the success of the Harry Potter movie series (THE most successful movie franchise in cinematic history). The ‘why’ is therefore understandable but the ‘how’ is a more intriguing prospect up for discussion. For a start, J.K. Rowling herself will be scripting the project, marking her debut as a screenwriter. In the statement released by Warner Bros. and Rowling, she explains why this is so:
“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.”
The setting of the new film will provide quite a departure from the existing and established Potter world that we know, being primarily set in 1920’s New York (also from her statement, Rowling says: …“Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.”). As well as the most obvious departure being that of America rather than Britain, we also have the ‘jazz age’ time period to consider, alongside the important question of casting. Will the character of Newt Scamander be American?
The question is also raised as to whether this will be a standalone movie or the start of a new series. Warner Bros. would, given the success of the Potter series, be open to Scamander’s tales being a sequence of films and, given the nature of the ‘textbook’, this may fit; allowing ourselves to speculate, it could be that the plot of the new film(s) will follow Scamander from the initial beginning of the Fantastic Beasts project (referring back to Scamander’s introduction at the start of Fantastic Beasts: “The first edition of Fantastic Beasts was commissioned back in 1918 by Mr Augustus Worme of Obscurus Books…”) to his chronicling of the various beasts in a series of escapades, exciting and/or dangerous. There is, of course, the open door for cameos from various Potter regulars, such as Dumbledore, and other notable figures of the world, perhaps a young Minerva McGonagall?
What reaction from the Potter faithful? I caught up with an old friend of mine, a die-hard Potter fan (books over films, mind) called Sarah, a veteran bookseller, to see what she thought of the Rowling-scripted project:
“I think the main thing about J.K. Rowling returning to the Harry Potter universe is J.K. ROWLING IS RETURNING TO THE HARRY POTTER UNIVERSE! This is very exciting and although I’m still hoping for a marauders book, Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them sounds intriguing.
As someone who has found the films a little less than successful and a little more in the chair-clenching, anxiety-inducing despair kind of category, the fact that J.K. is writing the screenplay herself is a step in the right direction. I think she’s keen to separate this story from the pre-existing Harry Potter arc (the film is to be set in New York for one thing) which is probably why she’s taking control of the writing process. So no Daniel Radcliffe cameos (please!).
As to who should play Newt Scamander, I’m hoping they go down the same route as Doctor Who have this time and pick someone a bit longer in the tooth. (It’s a shame [Peter] Capaldi’s already DW because that would be stupendous.)
The trouble is, a lot of the candidates have played a part in HP already. In all honesty, I don’t think Rowling would do it if she didn’t have a clear idea of just how good it could possibly be, so let’s save the conjecture and just be happy to have some wizards back on the cinema screen! After all, there are never enough.”
More news as and when it appears.
Your excitement levels for this announcement will be drastically affected by whether you are a fan of Rowling’s magical world or not…
You can read Warner bros. announcement of the news here:
by Andrew Jamieson, Editor-in-Chief, Geekzine UK
Andrew is the author of The Vengeance Path, a Steampunk Fantasy and the first in the ongoing series The Chronicles of Edenos, set on an alien planet far into the future. Available as an eBook from Amazon, or from the publisher’s website.