SEPTEMBER 12, 2013 | 06:23AM PT
Managing Editor, Variety.com
Warner Bros. Entertainment and J.K. Rowling are developing a new series of films 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.
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J.K. Rowling will make her screenwriting debut with “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” WB announced today. It is intended to be the first in a series of films.
The famous writer cautioned that the new series was not intended to be a “Harry Potter” sequel. “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,” Rowling said in a statement (see her full quote below).
The studio said “Fantastic Beasts” would be developed across the studio’s digital, consumer-products and gaming units, including links to Pottermore.com, Rowling’s digital online experience built around the Potter books.
Warner’s relationship with Rowling as part of this pact includes expanded efforts with its Harry Potter activities, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Parks. Warner Brothers will serve as the worldwide distributor, excluding the United Kingdom, of the author’s coming TV adaptation for the BBC of her book, “The Casual Vacancy.” Production for the miniseries is slated to begin in 2014.
The relationship between the author and the studio will be managed by Neil Blair of The Blair Partnership, Rowling’s literary agent, and Josh Berger, president and managing director of Warner Brothers U.K., Ireland and Spain.
The eight “Harry Potter” movies -– which began in 2001 and concluded in 2011 –- grossed more than $7 billion worldwide for Warner Bros., making it the highest grossing film franchise of all time.
Full J.K. Rowling comment: “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.”