What J.K. Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them’ Could Really Mean for ‘Harry Potter’ Fans
It had to happen sometime – Warner Bros. and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling are reportedly teaming up for a new movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, based off of Rowling’s spin-off book and set in the same wizarding world. Proving once and for all that movie studios are physically incapable of letting a lucrative property die out quietly, the film will continue the billion-dollar franchise that we thought to be concluded back in 2011 with Deathly Hallows Part 2.
Rowling has attested that this movie will have little to do with Harry and his friends, acting as “an extension” of the world that just so happens to exist within the same brand. The bad comes from what this might mean for fandom and movie executives’ relationship with them. Evidently, the theme parks, merchandise and continued revenue from re-released box-sets etc. weren’t enough. If there was even the slightest opening for more films, Hollywood was always going to take it. I’d like to believe this was a creative decision, but money shouts louder than art.
From the announcement, which is the only thing we currently have to go on, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which Rowling became involved out of a sense of protectiveness and fear of the alternative. She’s famous for maintaining control over her creations, being involved in the Harry Potter franchise every step of the way, and it’s likely that Warner Bros would have proceeded with an adaptation of Fantastic Beasts with or without her involvement. She’s even gone one step further and signed on to write the script, citing a loyalty to the character of Newt Scamander:
“It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them into a film,” she’s quoted as saying in the press release. “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 favorite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood.”
How long is it until someone comes up with a bright idea to continue the Twilight franchise? With every pretender bombing at the box office, I’d wager it won’t be long at all. In a lot of ways we were lucky that The Hobbit existed to milk the Lord of the Rings franchise a little more, but adapting a prequel novel is an entirely different thing to adapting a fictional textbook. And that’s what Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them is – a textbook. It helps that Rowling has the history of protagonist Newt Scamander worked out already, of course, and I’m eternally thankful that, however it came about, Rowling is the one steering this ship.
But where does it end? If executives decided to create a new adventure that filled in the time between the battle of Hogwarts and the epilogue at King’s Cross station, would she be able to say no? Would she be forced to either get involved or sign away the rights to characters, locations etc. that she’s spent her life creating, revising and introducing to the world? It’s a frightening thought, but one that we should really be considering. Worst case scenario? In ten years time we won’t just be looking at the inevitable remake/reboot, but a string of tied-in films, books and television that could potentially have sullied the series’ magical properties.
Should we just be celebrating another go-around in Rowling’s rich and glorious world, or protecting what we’ve held sacred for so long? I won’t lie and say I’m not more than a tiny bit excited about going back to a world of witches, wizards and muggles, but there’s also a fairly loud and bothersome voice in the back of my head telling me to be cautious with my optimism. Maybe I’ll eat these words as soon as the film becomes a reality, and I really hope that’s the case, but for now I’ll be in my room, clutching my books and DVDs for comfort while I come to terms with the news.