J.K. Rowling casts new spell

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Potter-heads rejoice: The beloved author behind the enormously successful “Harry Potter” series has a new film in the works to satisfy our wizarding world cravings.

J.K Rowling has agreed to write the screenplay of an upcoming Warner Bros. film set in the same magical world as the “Harry Potter” series. But it’s not a sequel that will branch off or add to the events that took place in the HP series. Instead, it’s about the adventures of the author of the Hogwarts textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a required reading for first-years at Hogwarts and all hardcore HP fans. The author’s life story should be as interesting and exotic as his name: Newt Scamander.

In a statement on Rowling’s official Facebook page, she said Warner Bros. came to her about the project and she immediately knew it was something she would be interested in pursuing.

“I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ realized by another writer was difficult,” Rowling said. “Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt.”

It will be exciting to see what Rowling will reveal about Scamander in the movie, because “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” only provides a short “About the Author” page to tease readers’ imagination.  According to the books, the magizoologist was born in 1897 and quickly rose through the ranks in the Ministry of Magic after completing his studies at Hogwarts. He took many research trips abroad during which he collected information on the magical creatures found in his best-selling guidebook.

In her Facebook statement, Rowling assured fans that though the movie will not involve the events and characters of the “Harry Potter” series, fans will find the same familiar wizarding universe.

“[The movie] is an extension of the wizarding world,” Rowling said. “The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the ‘Harry Potter’ books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, 70 years before Harry’s gets underway.”

After the news broke about the film, fans began speculating about who should be cast to play the enigmatic and mysterious figure. Fansite favorites include British actors Matt Smith of “Doctor Who” fame, and Benedict Cumberbatch from “Sherlock.” Daniel Radcliffe released a statement that ruled out his chance of appearing in the film.

“Fantastic Beasts” is part of an agreement Rowling made with Warner Bros. for a series of films. There may be a video game as well as other merchandise. According to the L.A. Times, Warner Bros. also has plans to distribute a planned BBC television adaptation of Rowling’s 2012 novel “The Casual Vacancy.” While a bestseller, “The Casual Vacancy” was met with some negative reviews and fan reactions. Rowling also wrote a mystery novel, “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” under pen-name Robert Galbraith which sold relatively well until the author’s true identity leaked, causing sales to soar.

Heather Kahn, a senior public relations major, said she was glad that Rowling chose the Newt Scamander project rather than continuing the “Harry Potter” series. Since she grew up with the “Harry Potter” franchise, she is excited to see how Rowling will approach adult characters.

“With Newt Scamander also being an adult, I think it will eliminate any disconnect that older fans may have felt had Rowling chosen to write about younger characters like the Potter and Weasley children,” Kahn said.