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Rowling’s return to the wizarding world

It has been just a couple of years since the final Harry Potter film stormed the box-office, but it already seems time to hop back on our broomsticks for a triumphant return. J.K Rowling, author of the all-conquering series, has recently announced that she is planning a new feature set within the Potter universe. The new film will be based on one of the series’ spin-off books: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

For those of you who have never heard of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it acts as a purported text book that Harry and his friends study during their time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft a Wizardry. The book, which Rowling penned as fictional narrator ‘Newt Scamander’, is one of three similarly ‘academic’ spin-offs, with the others being Quidditch through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

As the title would suggest, Fabulous Beasts and Where to Find Them is a compilation of evidence and anecdotes on all sorts of magical creatures. As a leading ‘magizoologist’, Newt Scamander is at the forefront when it comes to a huge variety of monsters. So while the film version is likely to offer some old favourites, like the Hippogriff and the House-Elf, we can also expect a whole hoard of brand new beasties.

From what we know about the book, the events Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will take place 70 years before the first Harry Potter story, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This makes it unlikely that many of your favourite Potter-verse characters will make an appearance, especially as the book contains no major links to the original series’ plot. However, avid fans among you will know that Rowling went to the unnecessary effort of marrying Scamander’s grandson Rolf to fan-favourite Luna Lovegood. Could we see a flash-forward in which Rolf and Luna are telling their children about their great grandfather? Or perhaps Newt himself may bump into a younger incarnation of Luna’s father Xenophilius Lovegood? For now we can only speculate.

While many of you might be thinking this new film will just be ‘more of the same’, it actually marks quite a considerable change of pace for the author herself. Despite being one of most successful writers of modern times, this latest project will be Rowling’s screenwriting debut. While she obviously had a massive role in the previous films, Rowling acted only as a story consultant figure, never touching pen to paper when it came to the actual script so this is really uncharted territory for her.

It suffices to say; writing a screenplay for a movie is a very different challenge to writing a novel. If someone excels on one platform of writing, it does not mean they will excel on others. For example, many of Stephen King’s stories have been adapted for film by other writers. When King’s initial stories have been adapted by others, they have gone on to become some of the most beloved works of cinema around, including The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption. However, when King took the adaption task upon himself and actually single-handedly wrote a screenplay, the result was the poorly-received 1986 film, Maximum Overdrive.

So how will Rowling fair in this new role? Only time will tell. In the meantime though, it can’t be denied that the author has once again sent Hollywood into a state of frenzy. They can change the stories, the cast and even the screenwriter, but one thing remains certain: a return to the Harry Potter universe will have fans flocking to cinemas in their thousands.

Tags: Contrary Corner, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Features, Film, J.K. Rowling, Jackson Ball

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