Thursday, September 12, 2013

J.K. Rowling Returns to the Wizarding World!

Huge news today as J.K. Rowling announces her return to the Wizarding World she created in her Harry Potter books.  Warner Bros. Pictures and Rowling will be working together to adapt the Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, into a film series that chronicles the adventures of the book's fictitious author, magizoologist, Newt Scamander.  Rowling will be supplying the screenplay for the film, which currently has no director or any producing partners announced, but I'd be personally surprised if Harry Potter film producer, David Heyman, doesn't wind up being a part of this in some way shape or form.

This all comes after a post I made about two weeks ago, where I pondered ideas of how J.K. Rowling could create further longevity for the Harry Potter franchise.  My suggestion was to do a spin-off of some sort, not really focusing on Harry and his friends, but by focusing on the vast amount of intriguing characters and situations that the world of witches and wizards offers.  However, as I mentioned, I didn't think Rowling would ever approve of any other writer to come in and take over the care of her baby, and I was right.  When the idea of the film adaptation was reportedly presented by Warner Bros. to Rowling, she said she'd find it difficult to have another writer realize Newt's story, and that got her brain firing on the idea for the film series and the ultimate decision to write the films.

Personally, I am stunned and super excited about the news.  There has long been rumblings that Rowling would someday return to the world she created in some way, but I don't think anyone ever thought it would be anything more than a Wizarding World Encyclopedia or something.  The idea of getting a new set of wondrous characters created by Rowling, that we're sure to fall in love with as they go on these adventures searching for magical creatures, it's the kind of thing that gets my own imagination thumping.  While this will be Rowling's first screenplay, her characters and dialogue are already so rich, and her plotting so intricate, I see no reason to think she wont knock the script out of the park.

The story is reportedly taking place 70 years before the Harry Potter series, so cameos from Harry, Ron, or Hermione, aren't likely, but a young Albus Dumbledore perhaps?  We'll see.  What's also of extreme interest is that Rowling says Newt's story will start in New York, marking the first time she's ever interpreted the Wizarding World of America.  We've seen how the Wizarding World functions in Europe through the other books and films, but I think this shows a step forward into an even more exciting direction, further expanding the world in which she created.  Then, there's the simple fact that while Newt Scamander is a familiar name, little is known about his actual personality.

If you so choose, you can read Newt's character biography on the Harry Potter wiki, but the way Newt talked, the way he acted, is not known, so in essence we're getting an all new creation with plenty of room for growth.  We know he falls in love and gets married to a woman named Porpentina, no word as to whether she's a witch or a muggle, but that right there shows the potential for what the film series could deal with other than just Newt searching for magical creatures and cataloging them.  Of course, what I think has me most excited, is the fact that this film is not going to be a book adapted into a film, but will be a film first, and if there is a book adaptation of it, it will be an adaptation of the screenplay.

There is just a different feel to me when a story is written directly for the screen, rather than being written as a book and then having to make that transition to film.  When you're adapting a book, first and foremost, you already have to cut out most of the meat of the book, because books delve into the character's psyche.  Books show us a character's thoughts, feelings, and memories, in a way that films can't do, but what films do that books can't, is add the visual and aural element that makes films so unique as a form of storytelling.

There is a certain rush of emotion that you get watching a character break down into tears or fighting a dragon, that you just don't get from reading it on the page and imagining it.  While you may feel like you know the characters better in book form, as a film you often get a more direct emotional experience thanks to the movement of the camera, the sound effects, and the all important musical score.  Then there's the fact that the plot of a book, and the plot of a movie are structured differently.

A book can meander down many little rabbit holes and subplots, but a film, especially a blockbuster film, typically needs to shed all of the subplots that do not directly filter into the main plotline, in order to make a more cohesive whole that moves at a brisk pace.  This fact above is one of the main reasons many Harry Potter fans still gripe to this day about the film adaptations of the books, but with this film series being written exclusively for film, it just opens up all new possibilities.

What this really opens up the potential for, is a James Bond/ Indiana Jones-type character in the Wizarding World that could conceivably go on adventure, after adventure, after adventure, if that type of neverending character is what Rowling is going for here.  Personally, I don't know if that is what Rowling wants to do, seeing as she tends to love to plot big, intricate stories, rather than doing an adventure by adventure basis where the villains and supporting cast change each time out.  Of course, her latest book, The Cuckoo's Calling, kind of ends with the potential to be this type of neverending franchise, so who knows.  Perhaps Rowling wants to create a different kind of character with Newt.

Ultimately, I've already talked and hypothesized more about this than I initially planned to, but I'm just that excited.  As for who should direct, I think it would be a blast if one of the previous Harry Potter directors returned to helm the film.  David Yates might not be so keen to return after directing the last four films in the franchise, and Alfonso Cuaron seems pretty preoccupied right now with his Oscar buzz for Gravity, but with the story taking place in America, would it be too far fetched to hope that the only American director of the Harry Potter films, Chris Columbus, return to direct?  He effectively kicked off the whole film franchise, directing the first two films, and I think if they're going for a more lighthearted adventure approach, he'd be perfect. 

Of course, that's all just wishful thinking, and even at this current juncture, there is no release date set.  I expect you wont be seeing this film till at least 2016 at the earliest, and that would be pushing it.  The key take away here is that we're getting new, J.K. Rowling written adventures in the Wizarding World, and that's enough to make any fanboy giddy with excitement.

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