Just as the Dark Mark re-summoned the Death Eaters years after Voldemort’s supposed demise, the Harry Potter fandom is back in business, rolling up their sleeves in anticipation.
First, there was the Scholastic release of the brand-spanking new paperback editions of the books to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the U.S. release of The Sorcerer’s Stone. Naturally, this development necessitates the purchasing of a second box set. Don’t give me that look—yes, it is completely necessary. Have you seen the cover art by Kazu Kibuishi? Yeah, I thought so. It’s not just something to want; it’s something to need.
So that was all kinds of great just by itself, but apparently that was just the tip of the iceberg. We all thought that with the release of the second part of The Deathly Hallows, that was the end of flocking to theaters for midnight premieres. No more dressing up to showcase our best impersonations of our favorite fictional characters, no more bonding with the other people crazy devoted enough to wait in line three hours ahead of time to get the best seats possible, and no more highly emotional car rides home at 3:00 a.m. analyzing death scenes.
Well, if you haven’t already heard the news, y’all better hold onto your broomsticks because a few weeks ago it was announced that a whole new movie franchise is coming out. J.K. Rowling published two non-wizard-related books, A Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling, but it turns out that she couldn’t stay away from the magical world for long. She is currently in the midst of writing a screenplay for a Warner Brothers film based on her book-from-within-a-book Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and its fictitious author Newt Scamander.
Before I continue to fangirl, I would like to address some attitudes toward this project that I’ve heard come up. It has been criticized as J.K. Rowling just trying to milk as much money off of the Harry Potter franchise as possible, but I think it’s a little bit ridiculous to doubt the passion that she has for the world that she has created and how much she wants to continue to share it with us. Some people have also voiced disappointment and disinterest in a movie that isn’t focusing on Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but I feel like that’s part of what makes this even more exciting.
Newt Scamander is practically an untouched character within the context of the original series, but now we have the chance to learn more about him and many other parts of the wizarding world to which we’ve never before been exposed. The movie is set in New York City in 1918, seventy years before Harry’s story even begins, in an entirely different country. We get to see American wizards, you guys. This is a completely different Quidditch game. And Fantastic Beasts is supposedly only “the first in a new film series”—Rowling could write screenplays based on other books related to the series like Hogwarts, A History or Quidditch Through the Ages, or about anything from characters mentioned in passing to ones that we have never heard of. Personally, I would be absolutely ecstatic if we could see the Marauders’ era come alive on screen, but I won’t get too ahead of myself. Just thinking about the number of possibilities and opportunities for expanding the magical world in ways that we never could have imagined gives me butterflies.
So many of us grew up with Harry Potter. We remember doing book reports on The Chamber of Secrets in second grade. We still have the ticket stub from the first movie twelve years after it premiered. We miss the feeling of opening up to the first page in the first chapter of the latest book and knowing that we had hundreds of pages of magic waiting for us to devour. We all shared the disappointment of turning eleven and not receiving that Hogwarts letter. But now is our opportunity to be a part of something, together, all over again.