Admittedly, while I love Harry Potter, I cannot call myself a Potterhead. My love for the franchise mostly comes from the movies and the nostalgia of having been a kid when said movies were released. There’s something about Harry Potter films that feels just as magical as the world itself. Audiences grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, with the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone coming out in 1997 and the last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, releasing in 2011. To many of today’s adults, the Wizarding World was their childhood. Today, they read the books with their own children, watching the movies alongside them, so that everyone born after the craze knows what Hogwarts is and what house they want to be sorted into.
To Hollywood executives, Harry Potter defies the odds by maintaining a hardcore fanbase that want to fall in love with another chapter from this world. This was why Fantastic Beasts, the prequel series taking place in the early 20th century, was greenlit. It would introduce audiences to a new set of characters to follow over the course of several films, starting the fanfare all over again. Except they didn’t quite hit the mark.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them grossed $814 million. While impressive for almost any other franchise, it only outgrossed Prisoner of Azkaban to become the second lowest grossing Wizarding World film. But, in a way, this made sense. It was, after all, a spinoff with entirely new characters. If it could build off, or even maintain, that number, then I’m sure Warner Brothers would have been satisfied. But its sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald, came in far lower at $654 million. That, along with an outpour of fans that felt these movies were doing a disservice to the franchise, has put its future in jeopardy.
Many things went wrong with the conception of this new film series, with everything from story decisions, to who the story was focused on, to contradicting the rules of the established universe dragging the franchise down. Above all else, however, the biggest issue was time. When the Harry Potter books were adapted to the big screen, they cut a lot. Everything had to be compressed into two hours, which fans accepted at the time, because television was not nearly the vehicle it is today. Success was only found in a theater, where millions of people bought pricey tickets to see the enchantments that could only be made for that platform.
Streaming has changed all of that. Creative talent and stars are jumping to the small screen because it allows the time needed to explore a story, provides a decent budget to produce, and makes it possible to delve into less mainstream concepts. The idea of a single film being used to set up eight years worth of story is now unthinkable. Even though the MCU is able to continuously be successful, it is the only one to consistently do so. The Mandalorian is breathing new life into Star Wars on Disney+, Netflix’s The Witcher has allowed a video game adaptation to thrive, and a The Lord of the Rings television series is looking to make a splash on Amazon Prime in 2021. There’s no shame in a franchise with an extensive world becoming a streaming series, which means Harry Potter is perfect to debut its next phase there.
Imagine the possibilities. One option is to set it at Hogwarts, sometime after the end of Deathly Hallows. A Next Generation, as it were. Each year at the school would be a season, meaning you could have a 7 season arc, if that’s what was wanted, or start in the middle of someone’s enrollment if it was felt the show needed to differentiate more from the original story. The sets wouldn’t be too difficult, nor would the effects, as the most common spells are just bursts of light. The only returning cast member you would need, in terms of canon, would be a couple sporadic appearances from Maggie Smith’s Minerva McGonagall, the new Headmistress, and Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid.
But if this all sounds too familiar, another option is a show focusing on the founders of Hogwarts: Godric Gryffindor, Helena Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. This is an origin story that book readers would love to hear and takes place so far back that there is still an air of mystery to how the story would go. As a television show, all four of these characters would get their due, as well as whatever threat they were facing. Personally, if there was one lead, I would recommend Helena or Rowena take center stage, as a woman deserves the spotlight in this franchise for once. But, the best part of both of these ideas or any other that could be conceived is that having multiple episodes would lead to the ability to explore all the different, wonderfully weird characters the movies have been unable to properly showcase.
There is, however, an alternative that needs to be addressed. That would be an adaptation of the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is the canon sequel to the original story, focusing on the child of Harry, as well as the other offspring of the main characters. A movie adaptation of this story would bring back Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson to play the adult versions of their characters, which would no doubt be a huge box office hit. There are two big issues with this. The first is that Cursed Child is not very well regarded amongst fans and would most likely disappoint in terms of story. The second is that, while a one time reunion might drive up business the first time, executives will no doubt want sequels as well, in order to develop a new franchise. While one outing might feel nostalgic, two or three would make the experience feel stale and even cheapen the original story.
It would certainly be thrilling to see the actors as these characters again, but I truly believe that Harry Potter, as a character, ended his story with Deathly Hallows. The world he inhabits could use a bit more exploring, but dragging Radcliffe out in the glasses again won’t be looked at as fulfilling in the long run. You can look at the Star Wars sequel trilogy to see how difficult it is to build a new franchise, while also servicing aged original characters. It’s best to start fresh and build something new.
So why hasn’t this new streaming series been announced? It seems like the perfect show to get customers subscribed to the upcoming HBOMax. It is likely, in part, that the studio is obligated to finish out the Fantastic Beasts movies, which has only finished its second of an announced five movie arc. Announcing a new series would make Fantastic Beasts appear less important, while cancelling it all together would be downright embarrassing.
And then there’s the JK of it all. The previously beloved author has burned a lot of good faith with fans by not only disappointing with Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts, but has also annoyed them with transphobic comments and adding frustrating lore on Twitter. Said lore includes the revelation of Dumbledore being gay with no representation of such in the books and the revelation that, before toilets, wizards would do their business wherever and magic it away. The author would have to approve of the series, but also agree to what extent she would be involved. The prequel movies have shown that she has, thus far, had a difficult time writing outside of the novel for format, but she is unlikely to relinquish control. An agreement would have to be made for her to serve as a producer, able to give necessary advice and knowledge, but also let a pair of new eyes rejuvenate the franchise.
With all that being said, I believe audiences are just waiting for this series to happen, even if they don’t know it yet. The potential is as bright as a Patronus Charm, but we will have to see how long it takes for executives and Rowling to make this decision.