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"Harry Potter" boutique Whimsic Alley sees no uptick in "Fantastic Beasts" sales

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Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling's new film series -- based on a fictional textbook that the author wrote to accompany her "Harry Potter" novels -- is expected to do big business for the Burbank movie studio.

The Sept. 12 announcement that Warner Bros. would turn "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" into a franchise was also huge news for Stan Goldin, the owner of Whimsic Alley, a Miracle Mile specialty shop that sells "Harry Potter" merchandise, books and costumes.

Goldin expects to see a surge in business around the release of the first "Fantastic Beasts" movie. However, so far, last week's announcement hasn't goosed sales of the "Fantastic Beasts," book, a 42-page volume Rowling released in 2001.

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"We haven't seen much of an uptick on that yet, but I imagine we will," said Goldin, who began Whimsic Alley as an online operation about 15 years ago and later opened a retail store. "There is a lot of talk among the fan-base."

"Fantastic Beasts," released in 2001, is sold in a two-volume set alongside "Quidditch Through the Ages," another fictional Rowling-penned tome that is meant to supplement the "Potter" book series.

The set retails for $15 at Whimsic Alley. Goldin said he sells "a couple a week."

It will likely be at least a couple of years until the first "Fantastic Beasts" picture is released, requiring Goldin to bide his time. Warner Bros. has not said when production would begin, or announced a release date for the first film, for which Rowling will write the screenplay.

But waiting a few years would appear to be a small price to pay. After all, said Goldin, the release of 2011's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2", seemed to signal the end of the line. 

"The fans have stayed pretty loyal," said Goldin, who opened a brick-and-mortar store in Santa Monica about eight years ago and moved the shop to its current Wilshire Boulevard digs in 2010. "This just means it would be reinvigorated."

The new movie project traces its roots to the first "Harry Potter" book, which was released in 1997. In the first "Harry Potter" novel, the protagonist studied a textbook called "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" while at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Rowling's new film will center on Newt Scamander, who wrote that schoolbook, and will be set in New York 70 years pre-Potter. 

Like countless other "Harry Potter" fans who expressed their excitement for a "Fantastic Beasts" film franchise, Carmel DeAmicis, a 25-year-old "Potter" fan, told the Times that any new output from Rowling would be "amazing."

“J.K. Rowling is the brand that readers love and trust," DeAmicis said. "Whenever I needed to escape, I could go into the world she created, and that relationship you develop with an author is unique.”

Goldin said that in recent years Whimsic Alley has diversified beyond "Harry Potter," selling merchandise related to other franchises that seem to resonate with his core customers. Among those are "The Hunger Games," "Dr. Who" and "Game of Thrones."

But the Whimsic Alley owner said his patrons weren't interested in "Twilight" merchandise.

"It seemed like 'Harry Potter' fans hated 'Twilight,'" he said.

Times staff writer Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.

ALSO:

J.K. Rowling to revisit Harry Potter's world in new film series

Who is J.K. Rowling's new protagonist, Newt Scamander?

Warner Bros. to release J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' spinoff

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daniel.miller@latimes.com

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