Just two years after the multi-billion dollar Harry Potter franchise took a bow on the big screen, author J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. have announced an "expanded creative partnership" that will see Rowling returning to the world of Harry Potter for the beginning of an entirely new film series.
The center of the partnership is a Harry Potter tie-in book called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which Rowling will adapt for her first-ever screenplay. The film will center on Newt Scamander, who explored the wizarding world long before Harry's exploits. The press release adds that some of the new film's wizards and witches "will be familiar to devoted to Harry Potter fans." (Characters like a younger version of the fan-favorite Albus Dumbledore, who was well over 100 years old in the Harry Potter series, seem like an intriguing possibility.)
In a statement, Rowling explained how her return to the Harry Potter universe came together:
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 favorite 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. [Deadline]
But Rowling also cautioned audiences against treating Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as a full-blown extension of the Harry Potter universe:
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. 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. [Deadline]
It seems to us that what she's describing is exactly the definition of a "prequel" — but semantics aside, Rowling's return to the Harry Potter universe seems like a win for everyone involved. Rowling, who gets to re-enter her most beloved fictional universe on her own terms; Warner Bros., which will surely make a mint for doing it; and fans, who will finally get the new chapter they've been clamoring for since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in 2007.