J.K. Rowling sent shock waves through muggledom and the wizarding world alike Tuesday when she published a new short story catching up with an adult Harry Potter on her Pottermore website.
In addition to filling in some details about Potter’s life in his 30s — his hair streaked with silver, sporting a new scar on his cheek, wife and children in tow — the 1,500-word story certainly whet the appetites of Potter fanatics yearning for more of the Boy Who Lived.
But could Rowling’s latest dispatch ever form the basis of, or get the ball rolling for, a new Harry Potter movie?
The answer may well depend on Rowling herself. In the past, the author has indicated that she won’t be writing any more books about Harry, and a spokesperson reiterated as much to the Bookseller on Tuesday. Even so, she has proved reluctant to get out of the Harry Potter business entirely.
The financial incentive of bringing Harry back to the big screen is obvious: The existing “Harry Potter” movies were massive successes, grossing a combined $7.7 billion at the worldwide box office. And judging from the buzz generated by Rowling’s latest story, Pottermania knows no cure.
What party actually controls the Pottermore film rights remains a question. Sony developed the website with Rowling, but a spokesman says the firm does not hold any film rights to the property. Warner Bros. bought rights to the original Potter books, but it’s unclear if the deal included language for potential spinoffs. If it was Rowling herself, she could theoretically shop a potential Pottermore movie elsewhere, though given her close relationship with Warner Bros., it’s likely they would have the first crack at it. A spokesperson for Warner Bros. could not immediately provide details about the status of the studio’s “Pottermore” rights.
Assuming all parties involved could reach a financial agreement, there’s also the question of whether a new movie would make creative sense. Rowling’s new story seems like it would be a rather thin framework to hang an entire movie on. Written from the perspective of the poison-penned gossip columnist Rita Skeeter, it glimpses Harry and his friends and family at the Quidditch World Cup, but doesn’t offer much more than surface observations and a few teases.
Harry, for one, “is sporting a nasty cut over his right cheekbone” — the handiwork of a new villain? Perhaps, but there’s not much more to go on. And many of the other trappings of Harry’s grown-up life were previously revealed in the epilogue to 2011’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.”
Of course, Rowling could presumably flesh out the story of adult Harry and the gang further, should the muse speak to her.
There’s also the question of whether the original cast members would be interested in reprising their roles, particularly Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron). Radcliffe told reporters on Tuesday that he’s “inclined to say no” to picking up a wand again, though he also said he hadn’t read the story yet but intends to.
If and when he does, he might find some of the themes resonating with him. In the Pottermore story, Harry and his compatriots are reluctant celebrities mobbed by crowds, and they can’t seem to escape the shadow of the exploits that made them famous in their youth. Sound familiar?
If Radcliffe would be willing to reconsider, there’s one particularly tantalizing line in the story: Skeeter asks: “Is the Chosen One embroiled in fresh mysteries that will one day explode upon us all, plunging us into a new age of terror and mayhem?”
Potter fans can only hope.
In the meantime, Rowling has yet to close the door on the larger world of Harry Potter. She is currently adapting her fictional Potter-themed textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” into a trilogy of films for Warner Bros., which will mark her screenwriting debut.
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