Muggles rejoice. Warner Bros. is back in the J.K. Rowling business.
The studio is planning a film series that will once again be set in the world of witches and wizards, and is inspired by Harry Potter's Hogwarts textbook "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" will be an original story and will mark Rowling's screenwriting debut. It is planned as the first picture in a new film series. Harry Potter is the highest grossing film franchise of all time, having earned more than $7.7 billion worldwide, so the appeal of returning to the scene of the spell is obvious.
In place of a certain bespectacled boy wizard, the series will center on the textbook's author, Newt Scamander. The film is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world, Rowling said in a statement. In place of Hogwarts, there will be notable differences in geography.
"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, seventy years before Harry's gets underway," Rowling said in a statement.
Along with the film series, "Fantastic Beasts" will also be developed across the studio's video game, consumer products and digital businesses, providing ample opportunities for the kinds of ancillary revenue streams that make blockbuster film series like Harry Potter so widely coveted in Hollywood.
In addition, Warner Bros. will serve as the worldwide TV distributor of J.K. Rowling's upcoming television adaptation for the BBC of "The Casual Vacancy," her best-selling, very adult look at contemporary English society. Production on the miniseries begins in 2014.
Warner Bros. isn't done with the boy wizard who put Rowling on the map. The studio said it will try to find new ways to expand the Potter brand through digital content, video games and them park attractions in the spirit of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, currently queuing up crowds at Universal Parks and Resorts.
The relationship between author and media conglomerate will be managed in London by Neil Blair of The Blair Partnership, Rowling's literary agency, and Josh Berger, president and managing director, Warner Bros. UK, Ireland and Spain, who will serve as Warner Bros.' chief business contact for all J.K. Rowling initiatives going forward.