J.K. Rowling Producing ‘Harry Potter’ Play About the Wizard’s Early Years

Published 1 year ago by

Harry Potter Ron and Hermione J.K. Rowling Producing Harry Potter Play About the Wizards Early Years

Author J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally popular Harry Potter books spawned an eight-movie series which grossed over $7.7 billion at the global box office. The movies were a studio’s dream: a huge fan base, well-received (for the most part) by critics, and part of a vast fictional universe ripe for various merchandise licensing and franchising.

We know that Warner Bros. has trademarked elements of Rowling’s spin-off books set in the same world for use in future properties (movies, video games or even TV series), including “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” and “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”; not to mention, marketing a coffee drink from Starbuck’s based on the wizarding world’s “butter beer,” as well as the huge theme park in Orlando, Florida.

Now, USA Today reports that J.K. Rowling will produce – but not write – a stage play based on The Boy Who Lived’s early years, which will premiere in London’s West End at some point inside the next two years. Rowling accepted a story pitch from producers Sonia Friedman (responsible for The Book of Mormon) and Colin Callender, with an actual writer to be chosen soon. The play will apparently focus on “the previously untold story of Harry Potter’s early years as an orphan and outcast.”

Rowling told the Daily Mail that:

“[Friedman and Callender’s idea] was the only one that really made sense to me, and which had the sensitivity, intensity and intimacy I thought appropriate for bringing Harry’s story to the stage. After a year in gestation, it is very exciting to see this project moving onto the next phrase.”

Considering that the Harry Potter films were Warner Bros. biggest cash cows – out-grossing even Christopher Nolan’s Batman films (with eight films versus Nolan’s three, not that hard, but still) – the decision to keep the Harry Potter movie universe alive in any form possible should surprise exactly no one. The studio is “understood” to be involved with the development of the play, making the notion of a movie prequel – or a series of them – not just possible but probable.

Everything Wrong with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets J.K. Rowling Producing Harry Potter Play About the Wizards Early Years

We here at Screen Rant have our own ideas of what kind of spin-off movies we’d like to see, and none of them focus directly on Harry himself. With such a rich background history of that world available – going back thousands of years, to the founders of the Hogwarts houses – it seems unnecessary to hone in on a very, very young Harry, since his story has essentially been told. The play will be a success, that much is a given – but the relatively safe premise of this project might be more of a way to test the waters with a Harry Potter spin-off in order to gauge the public’s reaction to these properties.

Hardcore fans of the books and movies will flock to a movie based on the history of the Aurors or the early years of Godric Griffyndor, but casual moviegoers familiar with only the film series will need something instantly accessible, so on that level, this move makes sense. Will the play provide some kind of previously unexplored aspect of this nearly-universally known character? Rowling seems to think so, which means that the prospect for future movies is definitely viable.


The as-yet-untitled Harry Potter play will premiere on London’s West End in 2015.

Source: USA Today, The Daily Mail

Follow Anthony Vieira on Twitter @malaclyptic
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  1. Just like the Ant-Man casting, I read this a few days before it appeared here and after thinking about it, my reaction is still “what’s the point?”.

    Sure, it’ll make money, it’s Harry Potter. It’s just that we don’t really need this. We saw his early years. They were the first 4 movies.

    It’s like Rowling’s trying to milk it again because her adult books haven’t done so well critically or commercially.

    • I didn’t even know she made other books.

      • The Casual Vacancy, it’s just okay.

        • The Cuckoo’s Calling was phenomenal,though!

    • That was my first thought too, but then again, she’s rich enough to not need to work for a few lifetimes at least – and given the two producers involved, I’d say there’s a chance it may not be bad.

      But even then, I don’t quite see the point of this. I can’t envision much that could’ve happened in his early years that would be interesting enough to hold our attention – we know from the books that he had a miserable time and a few instances of involuntary magic – and that’s it. And to be honest, fans love the story as a whole but I don’t think they’re that nuts over the Harry character. And I say that as a fan myself.

      They really would’ve been better off if they’d taken a look at another aspect of the world. To her credit Rowling did some great world-building, so I don’t understand why they wouldn’t go exploring rather than stick to the same character we’ve been with for 7 books.

      • I, personally, would like to see RON’s early years. He has a fabulous, magical family that could allow us to see what its like growing up in a magical family, what are the differences, what do they get up to?

        He also has a bunch of older siblings who would be fun AND doing magic at the same time, making home life hectic and fun.

        • That does sound fun, although given that there’s so much else we could explore in the Potter universe that we haven’t really seen in the books, I’d much rather watch/read a story about, say, the Aurors than Ron’s early life. Or maybe a look into the lives of wizards outside of England. Or one of so many other potentially great stories out there – but yeah, I’d rather see a Weasley story too rather than Harry’s, would be nice to see things from the perspective of a wizarding family.

      • The thing is that it isn’t for you or me to envision that something interesting happen in the early years. That is their job and to convince us that it is worth seeing. If they do – hats off to them. If not, then I wouldn’t plan on seeing and feel no loss to it.

        • Hey, it’s not like I outright dismissed this as doomed to fail or anything, of *course* I’ll leave it up to them to convince me. I’m just questioning whether, given the potential of other areas in the Potter universe, focusing on this part really makes the most sense. And I did say that I don’t think Rowling’s doing it for money, and that the producers involved look really solid. When did I ever say it was my job to envision the production?

        • Wait, let me rephrase that, sounded a little harsh. Yeah it’s definitely not our jobs to come up with that story and make it good, I’m just saying that as far as first impressions go, I’m surprised that they’re not going in a different direction. But that’s just me.

    • People are so cynical! Rowling’s other books have done fine commercially, they’re just considered flops because they haven’t sold as much as the Harry Potter books…which they never will…because trying to repeat the phenomenal success of Potter is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. She can go back to the Potter universe and break some records I’m sure but she doesn’t need to. The woman has made enough money that she can write whatever the hell she wants. However, both The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling, her two adult books, are bestsellers. The Casual Vacancy is being made into a BBC miniseries next year and The Cuckoo’s Calling already has a sequel on the way.

      The Casual Vacancy got mixed reviews from critics but the vast majority of negative reviews I read were simply complaining that Rowling would dare write a book with bad language, sex and drugs that wasn’t a children’s fantasy novel. I thought it was a great book…not much in the way of plot but a nice character piece on the inhabitants and what it’s like to live in a small English village. The Cuckoo’s Calling which she wrote under a pseudonym received unanimous praise from critics before it was discovered that Rowling had wrote the novel. She’s doing pretty well outside of Potter even if her other novels aren’t pop culture centrepieces like HP. But Potter is a world she spent 17 years writing and its as rich a world as any Marvel or DC universe so I’m glad she’s returning to it. I’m in agreement with the writer of this piece that Harry is one of the least interesting aspects of it (his story is done for me) but I won’t judge until we no more about this play.

      I think Rowling’s a fine writer and always strikes me as very intelligent in her interviews. You can also tell she puts a lot of attention into detail and making sure there’s a good reason for a story so I trust that future Potter entries that she’s involved in will be good.

      • I agree with what you said, she’s not a bad writer by any means, it’s just that it’s been a struggle for her and so she’s having to return to this well (probably so she can profit from it and stop others making money from her properties without her involvement, I’d be the same if one of my books became as huge as the Potter books).

        People just can’t help being cynical when it seems that they’re bowing to the pressures of the vast majority who only care about Harry himself and assume we need to see the years before he found out he was a wizard.

        Case in point, during the last Potter movie, there were huge groups at the cinema who simply didn’t care if people heard them talk during brilliantly acted scenes involving Emma Watson or one of the adult cast but instantly shut their mouths when Radcliffe appeared on screen. That was annoying. It’s as bad as 16 year olds who laugh and act obnoxious during horror movies.

        We should see some new stories about the wider world, Harry’s story has been done.

    • Well obviously for the studios – it is about the opportunity to make more money. For the fans it is opportunity to see/hear another story set in a world they enjoy being told stories about.

      It is the same reason people enjoy fanfics, tie-in products, and adaptations. They want stories set in an world they like with characters they enjoy.

      What other point does there need to be?

  2. Tru dat

  3. I’d like to see some stuff about Harry’s parents and that generation of wizards or about Voldemort’s original uprising, etc. if anything…

  4. So she’s doing a “play”quel?

    • Oh I see what you did there, that was a “play” on words 😉

  5. Actually, Christian Bale was open to doing another one. Only if Nolan was directing, the script was good, and robin wasn’t in it.

    The first two were good. The third one was such a bore, and pointless.

    • Really? Hmmm, I found TDKR to be an excellent closing film for the trilogy, one that with BB framed the incredible events of TDK brilliantly AND and entertainingly. It was, IMO, quite necessary to the overall story and Bruce’s character arc.

      As for this business of an HP play, I’m always up for varied interpretations of stories I love…as long as there IS some sort of variation. I choose to take a wait-and-see stance…

      • Agreed. TDKR was on TV again recently and I still enjoy watching it. I honestly think it’s better than TDK (with Begins still being the best of the trilogy).

  6. How can any Batman movie series be complete without the Penguin, the Riddler, Mr Freeze, Batgirl etc.??? Nope, it was far from being complete, TDKR just aborted the series before its time. It was a final chapter that should have happened after 6 more movies. THAT’S the problem with TDK…

    • Except that Nolan and Bale were sick of making them because they felt constricted creatively instead of being able to explore other movies. I think that’s one reason Chris Eccleston gave for quitting Doctor Who after one season, he didn’t want to be typecast and only remembered for that one role for the rest of his career.

      Nolan also refused to include Mr Freeze and The Penguin when people asked if the rumour was true that Philip Seymour Hoffman would play Penguin, stating that he didn’t think those characters could be realistically portrayed in his version of that world. He also didn’t want The Riddler because it would’ve been a repeat of The Joker from TDK, especially the boat scene and the hostages near the end.

      That’s why that despite saying early on that they wanted to make four movies, I’m glad they only made a trilogy. The storyline was just perfect from start to finish and it takes a real lack of logic and common sense for someone to say “Why wasn’t he still active in the 8 years in between movies?” like I’ve seen some people ask, despite the fact that it was explained why he wasn’t Batman in that time during the third movie.

  7. One of the worst premises imaginable but still interestung as it is related to one of the 4-5 greatest stories ever told. So yes,I’m up for it, and hopefully a movie version based upon it. But there is a multitude of far more better ideas for Potter prequels:

    – The Hogwarts Chronicles: A sinister, gritty take on the foundation of Hogwarts in the Middle Ages, realized best as an HBO TV show à la Game of Thrones…maybe linked to the Merlin / Arthur myth…

    – Dumbledore’s early Victorian adventures (probably related to the Newt Scamander movie in development)…

    – The Rise and Fall of Tom Riddle / Voldemort and the first War featuring James and Lilly Potter and the other Marauders

    – A serial based on the sinister exploits of Salazar Slytherin who might be behind a couple of of the world’s well-established dark tales such as Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Sleepy Hollow etc…

    But again…it’s a start…anything fresh in the Wizarding World is worth to be checked out…

    • Actually, there really WAS a “Jack the Ripper” as well as a real Dracula…otherwise, an interesting idea.

  8. If I wanted to watch a play about child abuse, I’d just watch Annie.

  9. Yeah, if you could go ahead and stop mentioning Nolan in articles that have absolutely nothing to do with him, that would be great.

  10. If one were to do a prequel series, I would have much rather seen it be about the Marauders, or the first war against Voldemort, instead of Harry’s early years.

    There’s only so much running away from bullies or putting up with the Dursleys I can see before I just get bored.

  11. I would rather one of the original Order of the Phoenoix members,Hermione ,or one of the Hogwart founders to get a prequel over Harry.

  12. I remember first hearing about the Fantastic Beasts film announcement and thinking, “World building”

    Now I read this and think “Blatant cash- grab”

    The paragraphs describing Harry’s pre- Hogwarts years and magical spurts in Philosopher’s Stone were enough to convey that he had a lousy childhood. Do we seriously a story to tell what nobody’s interested in? A Beasts film is cool because it looks at an aspect of the world that isn’t explored much in the films. But this is too much. I prefer she detail the history of the Hogwarts founders, or excerpts of the original Order of the Phoenix.

  13. The only way any spin off movies are getting greenlit is if there’s a series of them. When the studio goes back to the Potter well the only reasonable and workable solution will be the ‘Rise of Voldemort’ storyline which will work its way up to Harry being left at the Dursley’s doorstep. The ‘Annie Potter’ play will be left alone as a curiousity, since the books have established that Harry’s early life has zero cross over with the wizarding world.

  14. I would rather read or see a movie about all the Dumbledore-Grindewald history, the young Albus… That would be interesting, from my point of view, because Rowling only told us a little bit of that in the deathly hallows book, but not with many details… How Dumbledore managed to defeat Grindewald? How Ariana really died? What was ‘romantic Dumbledore’ like? How did Grindewald get the elder wand? All that kind of stuff.
    Pd. Sorry for my English, I’m Spanish.