Tag Archives: j.k. rowling

J.K. Rowling’s ‘Potter’ world roars back to life

The pop culture juggernaut of J.K. Rowling’s Potter-mania appeared to be breathing its last gasp when the eighth film in the series, part two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, made its premiere amid teeming throngs of bittersweet Potter fans in London’s Leicester Square in 2011.

Wands went into their cases. Hogwarts scarves were hung up.

“When Potter finished, I thought that was it,” says producer David Heyman, who oversaw the movie adaptations from the start and has since produced Gravity, Paddington and other films. Director David Yates, who helmed the final four Potter movies, staggered away for a much-needed holiday.

“I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d come back so quickly,” says Yates. “But it was the script that pulled me back in.”

The script was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and it, unlike all the Potter films, was penned by Rowling herself. Based on Rowling’s 2001 book, which was framed as Harry’s Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts is set in Rowling’s familiar, magical world, but takes place 60 years earlier, in a more adult 1926 New York where wizards and Muggles (called “No-Majs,” as in “no magic,” in America) live in disharmony.

This fall, Rowling’s $7.8 billion film franchise will roar back into life, resurrecting one of the most potent and lucrative big-screen sensations. It’s a two-pronged attack. While Fantastic Beasts is reaching back into the past of Rowling’s Potter world, the two-part West End play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (only co-written by Rowling) is going into the future. It moves the tale 19 years ahead of where the books left off.

Authorship, timelines and casts may be extending in new directions, but the old obsession is still goblet-of-fire hot. The script of Cursed Child sold 2 million copies in two days.

Big expectations naturally also surround Fantastic Beasts (Nov. 18). For Warner Bros., which has endured sometimes rocky times in the intervening non-Potter years, it’s a happy reunion. In today’s constantly rebooting, ever-sequalizing Hollywood, did you really think Rowling’s world was finished?

“This isn’t Harry Potter. There aren’t Harry Potter characters in this,” says Heyman. “But there is connective tissue. To (Rowling), it’s part of one big story.”

That connective tissue, like a prequel, will grow more pronounced in coming Fantastic Beasts installments, eventually leading close to Harry, himself. A trilogy is planned, with the next chapter going into production next July. Less diehard fans should prepare for some very hardcore nerding-out by Potter fans as they trace illuminating hints in the tale’s history.

Eddie Redmayne stars as the bumbling magizoologist Newt Scamander, the future author of the Hogwarts textbook. Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler and Colin Farrell are among the many supporting roles. The story about escaped magical beasts loose in a city with anti-magic elements, the filmmakers claim, bears contemporary relevance.

“We in a time of great bigotry in America, the UK and around the world,” says Heyman. “This context of the story, while not political with a capital ‘P,’ is relevant in this time. It’s an entertainment but it’s not a hollow entertainment.”

Along with the new cast and the hop across the Atlantic, the biggest change is Rowling’s deeper involvement as screenwriter. She’s also writing the next “Fantastic Beasts” film.

“There were lots of things that inevitably got left behind,” says Yates of forming the Potter films. “In this case, we’re working directly with (Rowling) and the material is pouring out of her.”

“She’s a great writer and a quick study,” says Heyman. “She approached it with incredible humility but at the same time with the confidence of someone with boundless imagination. She wanted to be as good as she possibly could at it.”

‘Harry Potter’ e-books come to life in new Apple edition

You don’t need to be a wizard to see the “Harry Potter” books come to life.

The seven books are getting a makeover with more than 200 new illustrations in enhanced e-books made for Apple devices. More than half of the illustrations are animated or interactive, with such touches as a golden snitch from Quidditch matches flying away as you tap it on the screen. Series creator J.K. Rowling also goes deeper into some of the characters and story lines with a handful of pop-up annotations.

The editions are exclusive to Apple’s iBooks Store and require an Apple Inc. mobile device or a Mac computer to read. For other devices, including Amazon’s Kindle, standard electronic editions are available through Rowling’s Pottermore site.

The makeover offers readers young and old a new way to engage with the story. It also gives Rowling and her publishers an opportunity to resell these best-selling books, the last of which came out eight years ago. It’s akin to Hollywood releasing the same movies in new formats and with bonus materials.

While the illustrations are new and exclusive to the enhanced editions, Rowling’s annotations aren’t necessarily so. Rowling has been regularly posting new essays on Pottermore. She has traced Harry’s roots to a 12th-century wizard and has written about the origins of an invisibility cloak that appears throughout the series. Rowling has also penned supplemental books, including “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” a children’s book that was referenced in the last “Harry Potter” book.

Until recently, the Pottermore site also had a game that took readers through the books chapter by chapter, with riddles and other discoveries along the way. That game incorporated clips from the “Harry Potter” movies. The new e-books do not.

Instead, the new editions offer full-color illustrations and animation from Pottermore artists.

In one animation, you see multiple letters fly in through the fireplace with news of Harry’s acceptance to Hogwarts wizardry school. In another, an owl, a cat and the fog come to life on Platform 9 3/4, where a Hogwarts-bound train awaits. On the train, you see landscape moving by through a window.

In one scene of a feast, you can slide left and right to see the rest of a long table covered with food. It’s not obvious which illustrations are interactive. The idea is to get readers to explore.

There’s no sound, though. When Harry’s friend, Ron, gets an angry audio letter from his mother, you see steam coming out, but you don’t hear her screaming, as you do in the movie.

You can access Rowling’s supplemental materials by tapping a quill icon embedded in the text. For instance, you learn how students arrived at Hogwarts before train service began: Some rode on broomsticks, but that was tough with trunks and pets to bring along.

There aren’t many annotations, though. You get more backstory at the Pottermore site, but you need the e-books for the full text.

The books also get new digital covers to reflect each book’s theme — serpents for the second book, for instance. Artists also designed a new font with each letter incorporating a lightning bolt — the shape of a scar on Harry’s forehead. This font — named Fluffy, for a three-headed dog in the first book — is used for the opening letter of each chapter.

The books cost $10 each, or $70 for the series. There’s no discount if you already own standard electronic editions. English editions are available in the U.S. and 31 other markets right away. Editions in French, German and Spanish are coming Nov. 9.

JK Rowling tells a new Potter story on her website

Eight years after writing the last of her “Harry Potter” novels, J.K. Rowling is still adding to the boy wizard’s story.

The author posted new information recently about the Potter family, the background provided on a “newly imagined” and mobile friendly version of the Pottermore Web portal (www.pottermore.com ) that Rowling established in 2012.

In a brief essay titled, “The Potter Family,” Rowling traces Harry’s roots to “the twelfth-century wizard Linfred of Stinchcombe, a locally well-beloved and eccentric man, whose nickname, ‘the Potterer’, became corrupted in time to ‘Potter.”” She also offers the backstory on the “Invisibility Cloak,” a legacy made possible by a “beautiful young witch” named Iolanthe Peverell.