Warner Bros, J.K. Rowling Team For New ‘Harry Potter’-Inspired Film Series

Expanding their longterm, lucrative partnership on the Harry Potter franchise, Warner Bros and author J.K. Rowling are putting a new film series in the works. Rowling will make her screenwriting debut on Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, an original story based on the Hogwarts textbook that appears on a reading list in the first Potter tome, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone. This is the first in a planned series of films and will feature magical creatures and characters from the Potter mythology, including the textbook’s fictitious author, Newt Scamander. Rowling says it’s not a sequel or a prequel to the Potter adventures, but will kick off in New York, 70 years before Harry’s story starts. No timeline or director has been identified yet. If the films follow the Harry Potter process, they’ll make use of Warner Bros’ Leavesden studios outside London which Warner acquired and revamped after the last Potter film was shot. Warner Bros noted today that the relationship between Rowling and the studio will be managed in London by Neil Blair of Rowling’s literary agency The Blair Partnership, and by Warner UK, Ireland and Spain chief Josh Berger.

Fantastic Beasts will also be developed across Warner Bros’ video game, consumer products and digital initiatives businesses. As part of the newly extended relationship, Warner Bros has also boarded the BBC adaptation of Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy which goes into production next year. Warner will distribute the series globally, excluding the UK. A full press release on the new arrangements follows:

Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced an expanded creative partnership with world-renowned, best-selling author J.K. Rowling. At the center of the partnership is a new film series from Rowling’s world of witches and wizards, 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 announcement was made by Kevin Tsujihara, Chief Executive Officer, Warner Bros. Entertainment.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” will be an original story and will mark Rowling’s screenwriting debut. It is planned as the first picture in a new film 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.

“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,” said Rowling. “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.”

“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,” said Tsujihara. “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.”

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.

The Studio’s expanded partnership with Rowling also covers the continued expansion of its Harry Potter activities, including the wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks in conjunction with partner Universal Parks and Resorts (currently in Orlando, FL; opening in Hollywood, CA and Osaka, Japan), digital initiatives (including Pottermore), video games, consumer products and visitor attractions.

In addition, Warner Bros. will serve as the worldwide TV distributor (excluding the U.K.) of J.K. Rowling’s upcoming television adaptation for the BBC of “The Casual Vacancy,” her best-selling first novel aimed at adult audiences. This miniseries begins production in 2014.

The relationship will be managed in London by Neil Blair of The Blair Partnership, Rowling’s literary agency, and Josh Berger, President & Managing Director, Warner Bros. UK, Ireland and Spain, who will serve as Warner Bros.’ chief business contact for all J.K. Rowling initiatives going forward.

Rowling’s expanded quote regarding “Fantastic Beasts” is below:

“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 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.

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.”

Comments (67)

  • You don’t have to be an A+ student in Divination class to have seen this one coming. There’s a gazillion dollars to be made, and Rowling’s fantasy universe is over-populated with interesting characters. While it’s unfortunate the franchise/reboot trend continues to squeeze out original offerings, Warner Bros did a pretty good job with the Harry Potter series, especially compared to the recent Twilight or Star Wars films.

    Comment by Mr. Majestyk — Thursday, 12 September 2013 14:28 UK  
    • Wait, wait…..WAIT!!!

      I thought the WB accounting books showed the HP movies still in the red??? Like LOTS AND LOTS OF RED INK??

      Why would they continue to pour money into these franchises if they took a loss??

      ‘cough cough’

      Comment by NoahD — Thursday, 12 September 2013 20:18 UK  
  • You just made my day – and my daughter’s.

    Comment by Donovan — Thursday, 12 September 2013 14:32 UK  
  • I’m both surprised and not surprised. Surprised that Rowling’s willing to do this (I suspect a dumptruck full of money was backed up to her door; she’s not made of stone), but not surprised that the WB’s pushed for this.

    Given that they can’t seem to get their DC franchises sorted quickly enough and the final Hobbit movie will be out in 2014, they needed a new big tentpole franchise. Wonder if the first movie will be prepped for a Christmas 2015 release?

    Comment by Rich — Thursday, 12 September 2013 14:38 UK  
    • Yeah, it’s definitely one of the most logical steps for Warner…and it’s also the most logical way to expand the Harry Potter universe without depending too much on the original story.

      Comment by HowManyKropogs — Thursday, 12 September 2013 14:57 UK  
    • I doubt money had much to do with it on her end. After all, she was once a billionaire and gave so much away that she no longer tops lists of wealthiest individuals. I suspect it has a lot more to do with the file cabinets stuffed with backgrounds and notes on characters she has come to love, and that after writing two novels set in different universes, she’s finding it difficult to turn down another offer to write more about the world she loves most.

      Comment by muggle — Thursday, 12 September 2013 17:43 UK  
      • Yeah, I’m kinda leaning this one. J.K. Rowling is immensely rich, so I’m guessing that any further continuation of this world is more closely tied to her own desires (and when you think about it, she did a LOT of world-building for Harry Potter).

        Comment by Zacula — Thursday, 12 September 2013 23:41 UK  
      • I 100% agree! Brilliant statement!

        Comment by william — Friday, 13 September 2013 23:37 UK  
    • I thought this through today with a lot of thought, and don’t quote me, but I heard they hadn’t finished writing yet, so I highly doubt that they would release or prep for xmas 2015 I was guessing around 2017-18 xmas/new years because since I’m in the film/cinema business as an actor, I know if they actually haven’t finished writing then, it’ll take a while to cast and film and edit and release this major film. And who knows they’ll probably try to sell this bigger than Harry Potter itself, just because it’s new. But these are just my opinions.

      Comment by Willilam — Friday, 13 September 2013 23:35 UK  
  • Do we think the box office for this will come close to the HP franchise? I’m curious what opening weekend will look like for this (obviously BIG, but how big?)

    Comment by Alex Brown — Thursday, 12 September 2013 14:59 UK  
    • For the first entry? absolutely. It will mix the audience expecting a new fantasy blockbuster with the fans eager to get more ‘official’ information.

      The premiere weekend will be definitely huge.

      Comment by HowManyKropogs — Thursday, 12 September 2013 15:36 UK  
    • Not really. But they will keep the costs much lower. Unlike shooting with kids, they can sign unknown actors to long term deals. The book is the star, not the cast. WB will hire a bunch of unknown, or character, actors to long term deals. They can squeeze 3-5 movies out of this.

      I will go. Hopefully in 5 or 6 years I will have some kids that I can take with me to see the sequels.

      WB learned from the last two movies that they left a lot, and I mean a lot, of money on the table. Books 4-7 should all have been split into two films. They left nearly a billion dollars on the table.

      Plus, JK sold the movie rights to WB for a relative pittance. She didn’t make the same mistake this time. She is probably going to get a cut of the box office. This is FU money for JK’s grand kids.

      Comment by Patrick — Thursday, 12 September 2013 16:04 UK  
    • Anyone that kept up with the Potter films is guaranteed to go see this. It’ll be extremely successful.

      Comment by Benjamin — Friday, 13 September 2013 17:03 UK  
  • More witchcraft, demons, and occult. yay.

    Comment by Trial Lawyer — Thursday, 12 September 2013 15:01 UK  
    • “occult” what a big religion calls a little religion.

      total pot/kettle situation.

      Comment by merrrranga — Thursday, 12 September 2013 16:41 UK  
      • That would be “a cult”, not “occult.”

        Comment by UncleCharlie — Monday, 16 September 2013 20:38 UK  
        • actually both terms work in that context. and i used the one i meant to. thanks anyway.

          Comment by merrrrraanga — Thursday, 19 September 2013 02:30 UK  
    • Perhaps if you were to read the books you might find this more to your liking. The Harry Potter book series is not meant to be a religious commentary on witchcraft, it’s meant to be a story for children placed in a magical kingdom. (Yes technically it’s modern-day England, but obviously, as the characters use magic, quills, and candles, there are some definite nods to the time of King Arthur and it’s much more fanciful than factual.) The spells are mangled latin words, most of them in incorrect tenses and no one can accuse Rowling of creating an “occult” as she used abracadabra as the base word for her killing curse. Phenomenon and occult are different. Occults are exclusive in their nature and definition, Rowling’s books are anything but. Further evidence that the use of magic and fantasy in literature are not immoral can be found in the persons and writings of J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, two of the most famous modern Christian authors. They both created magical lands and used magic in their stories. Why is Rowling any different? Are her books to be condemned because she is not a proclaimed Christian or of whatever religious backgrounds you are? She used a lot of religious symbolism and the overall theme of the Harry Potter series is that love conquers all else. I challenge you to find a purer theme than that. The fact that the books are less about religion or witchcraft and more about relationships and seeing people for who they are instead of your preconceived notions about them seems to be ignored by you. I encourage you to tone down your judgment of others; you might find that what they have to say is worthwhile, but then what do I know, I just read books.

      Comment by Ravenclaw18 — Thursday, 12 September 2013 20:11 UK  
    • More giving lonely children an escape, letting people believe in magic for just a little bit, and stopping an entire group of fans from going even more psychotic from havng nothing. so yeah, you are right.

      Comment by Lexxy — Saturday, 28 September 2013 05:02 UK  
  • Take it back to church you whack job

    Comment by Reginaldo — Thursday, 12 September 2013 15:24 UK  
    • My thoughts exactly. No one is forcing you to read an artical about HP’s Wizarding World and then taking the time to comment about it. I believe the Lord would want you using your time more wisely than surfing the internet TrialLawyer

      Comment by Charlie — Thursday, 12 September 2013 16:32 UK  
    • Please don’t condemn all the “church goers” with your statement. I myself am a Christian, and I go to church regularly, but I still LOVE Harry Potter. I love the lengthy response Ravenclaw18 posted above. It is quite accurate. So (and this goes for everyone) don’t assume that, just because someone is a Christian or a “church goer” (not always the same thing), we all hate Harry Potter because that’s just not true. Talk about being judgmental…

      Oh, and I am very excited about this new movie!!! It will be a huge adjustment for me (and probably other Potter fans as well) because I am so used to Harry and his friends being the center of the books, so it will be hard for me to wrap my head around a new protagonist, but I am totally up for the challenge! :-)

      Comment by Callie — Tuesday, 3 December 2013 22:49 UK  
  • They should make a prequel film starring Sirius and Remus. That would be LEGIT! I love Gary Oldman and David Thewlis.

    Comment by Nick — Thursday, 12 September 2013 16:04 UK  
    • I agree entirely. There is so much that could be fleshed out.

      Comment by Walkabout52 — Sunday, 3 November 2013 21:49 UK  
  • I bet that by the time this thing is released, it has “World of Harry Potter:” attached to the title.

    Comment by Hagrid — Thursday, 12 September 2013 16:06 UK  
    • I really don’t think they’ll need to go that far. The title can stand by itself, but they’ll play up the Rowling name.

      Comment by Michael Heister — Friday, 13 September 2013 06:08 UK  
    • So what if it does?

      Comment by Jenna — Saturday, 14 September 2013 20:48 UK  
  • I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. My Granddaughters, Grandson & I shared the books & movies, and you just made my day with this news. I’m pretty sure I’m the oldest HP Fan and have missed it enormously. Thanks to JK Rowling & Warner Brothers! ?????????????????

    Comment by Mary Schaeffer — Thursday, 12 September 2013 17:04 UK  
  • Brilliant move by all involved. Harry Potter’s world lives on a handy 70 years before the events of the Harry Potter books so the only character that may be involved would be a young Dumbledore.

    I enjoyed Harry Potter but I was never the biggest fan, I have a young daughter though and I’m truly excited to introduce this magical world to her. She may be too young for The Hobbit (4 years old, she’s had the book read to her but can’t watch the movie) so this is perfect. Much better than more smurfs!

    Comment by Mark — Thursday, 12 September 2013 17:30 UK  
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