Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US)’s Warner Bros. studio announced plans for a new series of films based on the works of “Harry Potter” writer J.K. Rowling, expanding a partnership with the best-selling author.
Rowling will write the script for the first film in the series, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” making her screenwriting debut, the Burbank, California-based studio said today in a statement. The work will be based on a fictional textbook used by students at the Hogwarts wizard school attended by Harry Potter in Rowling’s original seven books.
“Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for 17 years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world,” Rowling said in the statement. The new story will start in New York, 70 years before the events in the original Harry Potter series, she said.
Time Warner, led by Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bewkes, is seeking to create new film franchises after the conclusion of the original Harry Potter movies and the Batman trilogy helmed by director Christopher Nolan. The eight Harry Potter films have together grossed more than $7.7 billion worldwide, making it the largest-grossing franchise in Warner Bros.’ history.
The new script will depict the adventures of Newt Scamander, the author of the “Fantastic Beasts” textbook. In addition to serving as the first in a film series, the work will be developed into a video game and merchandise. The expanded partnership with Rowling also will be incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks, which are run with partner Universal Parks & Resorts.
Time Warner was little changed in New York trading today, closing at $62.80. The stock has climbed 31 percent this year.
The original seven Harry Potter books were published between 1997 and 2007 and sold more than 450 million copies worldwide. Rowling also wrote two related titles that appear as textbooks within the novels -- “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Quidditch Through the Ages” -- as well as another work called “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.”
The Harry Potter books were turned into eight films, with the final installment split into two movies.
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