The Harry Potter novels may have been completed in 2007, and their movie adaptations may have wrapped up in 2011, but that hasn’t stopped the juggernaut from even remotely slowing down. New short stories, theme park lands, a stage play called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and, even, a brand-new spinoff film series - that’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which just started this past November - have all released over the course of the past six years, with even more on the way over the next seven (when Fantastic Beasts’s fifth and final installment is currently scheduled to drop). But all of this may just be prologue to the really big development, should a new rumor be believed.
Even before Cursed Child’s premiere at the Palace Theater in London on July 30, 2016, there was talk of Warner Bros., the holder of the Harry Potter cinematic rights, being interested in eventually doing a big-screen version of the play. Now we may just have the biggest piece of evidence yet to support this.
Legendary theme park journalist and historian Jim Hill, whose contacts at Disney and Universal run well into the movie and television divisions, was the guest of honor on the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast last week to discuss Universal Orlando Resort’s future developments. When talk turned to Harry Potter – Florida may as well be Harry’s permanent home, given how many themed experiences are devoted to him there – Hill let slip an apparent detail regarding the recent contract between NBCUniversal and Warners, which grants exclusive broadcast rights of all the Potter and Fantastic Beasts films to NBCU’s various television channels starting on July 1, 2018:
They not only have Potter, they have Fantastic Beasts and, supposedly, if you drill down into the language of the deal, they also have – when they’re finally made – the trilogy of movies that will be based on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Furthermore, Hill went on to say that the expected release date for the first movie would be 2026, two years after the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sub-franchise is completed. He elaborated:
I have heard that Warner Bros. has actually had conversations with [Emma Watson], with Rupert [Grint], and, of course, Daniel [Radcliffe] about Cursed Child, ‘cause they want this to be, for lack of a better term, Harry Potter: The Force Awakens. They want this trilogy of movies to have the actors that we know and love from the original films, that we watched grow up, as adults. And, of course, they’re hiring a bunch of new, younger actors to play their children with the hope that, "If we can lean on J.K. [Rowling], maybe there’ll be The Cursed Adolescent.”
While rumors of doing the stage play as a film (or three) first broke last summer – right alongside the report that Warners was, indeed, courting Dan Radcliffe to be in it – they were quickly denied by the studio, which curtly stated that there were “no plans” in the works.
But the reference to Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an intriguing piece in this emerging Potter puzzle. While the first Fantastic Beasts is no financial slouch with its box office total of just over $800 million, that still places it as the second-lowest-grossing movie entry yet (ahead of only 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), possibly proving that there may be no substitute for the original cast of characters in audiences’ minds. Considering 2026 would mark 15 years since their last appearance together – and given that ‘26 would make Radcliffe 37-years-old, the exact same age Harry is at the start of Cursed Child – the tidal wave of fan excitement would probably, indeed, be similar to Star Wars: Episode VII.
The most tantalizing detail of them all, however, may be the reference to even more big-screen adventures for Harry and his family in the years following 2030. Indeed, without getting into spoilers (they’re all here if you do want the full story), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child leaves the second-oldest Potter son, Albus Severus, in an interesting position where his relationship with his middle-aged (and over-stressed) father is the most intense and where he still has a few years left in his tenure at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. There could be room enough for three or four more outings – should Rowling lend her stamp of approval, of course.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018