How Warner Bros. Convinced J.K. Rowling to Write More Harry Potter

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And it wasn’t by getting Harry and Batman to commiserate about their dead parents.

J.K. Rowling has always been pretty clear about whether there were more Harry Potter stories in her than the seven books. With a true writer’s understanding of their own creative impulses, Rowling has repeatedly stated that while it’s not impossible that she would return to the Harry Potter setting to write another book or story, that she wouldn’t be doing so for the foreseeable future. So it would have been surprising enough to fans if she’d announced a Newt Scamander prequel story set decades before the main action of Harry Potter and in a different country. But to hear that it was going to be a screenplay, and a movie? That’s more akin to getting a peek inside a strange parallel universe.

The Hollywood Report has published a long article detailing the behind the scenes machinations undertaken by Warner Bros. that culminated in Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. In a way, it’s a clash of two distinct storytelling styles: franchise movies, where open ended narratives where another story can always be added on are the norm, and fantasy novel series, where you’re much more likely to get a one very long story intended to be told over a set number of installments (actual number of books involved in that story may vary from series to series and indeed, from year to year). Rowling is done telling the story of Harry Potter, but Warner Bros. knows that they’re leaving money on the table by not producing more content for that fandom.

THR lays the heavy lifting on the shoulders of new Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who, more than a year ago, began the deal that would lead to a canonical, cinematic extension of the Harry Potter universe. Apparently he flew to England a number of times this spring to speak to Rowling personally. According to Rowling, FB&WtFT “would not have happened without him.” It also would not have happened if not for very unusual stipulation in Rowling’s contact, unheard of for first time screenwriters: Warner Bros. is not allowed to rewrite her script after she signs off on it, at least accordin to THR’s sources. If true, that’s a very gutsy move for Warner Bros. I say this with full appreciation of Rowling’s talents as a novelist: great novels and great screenplays are two different beasts. Uh, so to speak.

Either way, I’m sure Warner Bros. is tickled pink at the idea that they’ve managed to keep their golden goose in fine laying fitness. Especially after they passed on the film rights for The Casual Vacancy.

(pic via Paper Beats Scissors, story via The Hollywood Reporter.)


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Susana Polo
Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.