JK Rowling to make screenwriting debut with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
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Warner Bros. Entertainment has announced it will work with Harry Potter author JK Rowling on a spin-off film series set in the same wizarding world.
The new films will be inspired by Harry Potter’s Hogwarts textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the adventures of the book’s fictitious author, Newt Scamander.
The feature will be an original story and will mark Rowling’s screenwriting debut. It is planned as the first in a series. Set in the wizarding world, the story will feature magical creatures and characters, some of which will be familiar to devoted Harry Potter fans.
Rowling said: “Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for 17 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, 70 years before Harry’s gets underway.”
The Harry Potter series of books have sold over 450 million copies worldwide, are distributed in more than 200 territories, translated into 74 languages, and have been adapted into eight films.
Fantastic Beasts was one of two small volumes written by Rowling, which appear as the titles of Harry’s schoolbooks within the novels. The second was Quidditch Through the Ages and both were published in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief.
Rowling also wrote a book of children’s stories titled The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which purports to be the storybook of the same name mentioned in the last book of the Harry Potter series. It was published in Dec 2008 in aid of the Children’s High Level Group (now known as Lumos).
World of wizardry
Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, said: “We are incredibly honored 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.”
Harry Potter films have grossed more than $7.7bn to date worldwide at the box office, making it the largest-grossing film franchise in history.
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.
In addition, Warner Bros. will serve as the worldwide TV distributor (excluding the UK) of Rowling’s upcoming television adaptation for the BBC of The Casual Vacancy, her first novel aimed at adult audiences. This miniseries begins production in 2014.
Full statement: JK Rowling
“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 17 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, 70 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.”