Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has enjoyed rave reviews since opening in London’s Palace Theater at the end of July. Though the plot might be one of the weaker elements of the show, the praise for the acting, set, and most of all, use of illusion and magic within the show, has been strong. Above all, time and again, the reviews have praised Cursed Child for successfully giving fans a continuation of the Wizarding World that we have come to know and love, albeit with different actors from the film series.
The script of the show has also been released, and J.K. Rowling has once again enjoyed topping bestseller lists across the world, with Cursed Child becoming the bestselling book of 2016. Technically, Rowling didn’t write the script; that honor falls to Jack Thorne, with the play based on an original story by Rowling, Thorne, and director John Tiffany, but the glory, of course, belongs to Rowling. While the plot is complex, and at times unbelievable, Cursed Child does what it set out to achieve, which is to say it continues Harry Potter’s story and gives us a look at Harry, Ron and Hermione as adults - and let’s face it, none of us were really ready to say goodbye to the franchise and the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, were we?
In fact, the Harry Potter fandom has barely died down at all; fans enthusiasm and appetite for all things related to Rowling’s Wizarding World has remained, as evidenced in the eager anticipation for the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this Fall. Given the popularity the franchise still enjoys then, and the fact that Cursed Child’s theatrical run is sold out until the end of 2017, it makes sense that Warner Bros. would want to bring Rowling’s latest endeavors to the big screen, right?
Well, yes, in many ways, a Cursed Child movie would make a lot of sense. But there are also many reasons why Harry Potter and the Cursed Child shouldn’t ever become a film, and really, the negatives outweigh the positives. Right now, Warner Bros. denies any intention of making a Cursed Child film, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t try to do so in the future. Right now, Cursed Child has over a year left on its current theatrical run, and that’s before Broadway even enters the equation, so any movie would be a long way into the future... and that’s where the film idea hits its first snag.
Cursed Child is so sold out that even resell tickets, going for over £1000 each, are hard to get hold of. People are traveling from across the globe to see the two-part show, and with average ticket prices of £45 per person, per part (£90 total), there’s no reason to assume that Cursed Child would not make a transfer to the Great White Way, and even to other countries such as Australia and China, in time. The grosses from ticket sales for a play - especially one which requires each person to buy two separate tickets - are far higher than a movie, so it seems safe to assume that the play will run and run (think Wicked, and we all know how long a film version of that show has taken to come about).
So, assuming Warner Bros. were still interested in picking up the film rights in a few years’ time, the problem then turns to casting. Warner Bros’. denial over the making of a Cursed Child movie stemmed from the rumor that Daniel Radcliffe was wanted by the studio to reprise his role as The Boy Who Lived. Given that the actor has starred in all eight movies, it’s certainly hard to imagine anyone else playing Harry on screen; though by all accounts, Jamie Parker has done an outstanding job of playing adult Harry on stage. There are many problems with casting Radcliffe again for any Cursed Child film, starting with the actor’s age. When the original Harry Potter films were being made, Radlciffe, along with co-stars Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Tom Felton, were all around the correct age that Harry and his friends were supposed to be. However, when Cursed Child opens, Harry is hitting 37. Right now, Radcliffe is 27 and though he certainly has the acting chops to portray Harry as a damaged adult who is struggling to connect with his teenage son; right now he looks like he could still be the teenage son rather than a world-weary father of three. While a baby-face might serve him well in the future, it’s not necessarily the look that would land him the role of a near 40 year-old.
Assuming, then, that Radcliffe was willing (which is unlikely) and cast for a movie to be made in, say, ten years’ time. For his casting to be effective, the rest of the Harry Potter central characters would also need to be included; Watson as Hermione, Grint as Ron, Felton as Malfoy. Not only that, but Cursed Child leaps back and forth in time, including other popular characters too; Professor Umbridge, Hagrid, Professor McGonagall, Dumbledore, and Snape. Aside from the sad fact that Alan Rickman is no longer with us, would stars such as Maggie Smith, Watson, etc, be up for reprising their roles also? It seems unlikely. Because of the nature of the plot, which involves a lot of time travel, we also see a younger Harry and Cedric in the maze during the Tri-Wizard tournament. On stage, an audience wouldn’t expect to see the same actor playing adult and teenage Harry, but on screen, would a flashback work if it didn’t show Radcliffe and Robert Pattinson? It seems, perhaps, a trivial point, but to die-hard Potterheads, it’s these little elements that would make or break the movie.
So let’s say a movie does happen, but none of the original cast are involved. What then? In all honesty, it seems a better, more viable option to cast either the current stage actors - or whoever is playing the roles in the West End at the time - or to go for complete unknowns, given that it would be hard to see any recognizable faces (other than original cast) in such iconic roles. However, while this might ensure the movie could be made, it wouldn’t necessarily endear it to fans, who would want to see the original cast in their roles... Leaving Warner Bros. stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Realistically, then, all things point towards a Harry Potter and the Cursed Child movie being a bad idea. If it did come about in ten years’ time, though, would anyone still have the appetite for it? Possibly - again, look at Wicked, whose popularity shows no signs of waning. However, a lot of plays or musicals that make it to the big screen then fall short; examples include War Horse, Into the Woods, and The Last Five Years to name but a few. If Warner Bros. went with a brand new cast and got this movie made, it still takes away from the overwhelming excitement of seeing Death Eaters fly live into the auditorium, or of watching Albus and Scorpius grapple with an enchanted book case. From reading the script, it is these magical moments that stand out, because they have to be performed live on stage, and executed perfectly. On screen they’re all done digitally, which takes away the magic somewhat. A film might give viewers a chance to see subtler nuances to characters, such as detailed facial expressions and so on, but it’s hard to compare that with the live theatrical experience that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child brings.
It’s currently estimated that Cursed Child would have to run for 120 years to give every fan the chance to see it on stage. That number would be halved if it also opened on Broadway, of course, but it’s still an immensely long wait, and doesn’t include young fans who are yet to discover the Wizarding World. In that respect, maybe a Cursed Child film is inevitable, but it could well end up being a disappointment for fans of Harry Potter, whose only wish is to keep the magic alive.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently playing at London's Palace theater until December 2017. The Wizarding World returns to the big screen with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on November 18th, 2016.