The dream of more stories from J.K. Rowling about the world of Harry Potter is alive. Warner Bros. announced this morning that Rowling will make her screenwriting debut with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a film inspired by the eponymous Hogwarts textbook and about its author Newt Scamander, which will be the first in a series.
Rowling, in a statement via Deadline, assured that this is not a prequel to Harry Potter, just an "extension of the wizarding world." She said: "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." It will be interesting to see the wizarding world in an earlier era—the 20s, we calculate—and in America.
According to Rowling, Warner Bros. first approached her with the idea of turning Fantastic Beasts into a film, but she had trouble with the idea of handing the character of Newt over to another writer. Rowling wrote a version of the textbook that was released for charity in 2001 and contains doodles and margin notes from Harry, Ron and Hermione. "Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt," she said. "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." So she pitched her own idea to Warner Bros.
The idea must be good, considering a year ago she said she would return to the world of Harry Potter if she had a "fabulous" concept. Obviously, unknowns abound and there's always the possibility that this is simply a moneymaking enterprise. (The Warner Bros. press release mentions that Fantastic Beasts "will also be developed across the Studio’s video game, consumer products and digital initiatives businesses, including enhanced links with Pottermore.com, Rowling’s digital online experience built around the Harry Potter stories.") On the other hand, if the films are anything like the latter installments of the Harry Potter films it could be a great time.