JK Rowling's 'Harry Potter' spinoff will be a full trilogy of movies for Warner
Well, of course it's going to be a trilogy.
The profile that The New York Times just ran on Warner's newest CEO, Kevin Tsujihara, was all about the way he's planning to keep Warner in the franchise business in the near future, and one of the things he mentioned was the new project that was announced last year, "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them," an original project by JK Rowling that builds off the world she created for her "Harry Potter" books.
One thing I'll say immediately that makes me like Tsujihara is that he's pushing Warner to produce and release more films instead of less at a time where so many other studios are barely making films. And, sure, many of those films are going to be giant tentpole movies, but that's what allows them to take a chance on something like "Gravity." The "Fantastic Beasts" trilogy will focus on Newt Scamander, a "magizoologist," and it sounds like these are going to be big adventure films that aren't saddled with an overall mythology about someone being The Chosen One and having to fulfill some Grand Destiny. Set seventy years before the "Potter" books, this sounds like it's going to give Rowling a chance to flesh out her magical world in ways that should be an opportunity for all sorts of fun.
The article makes it clear that Rowling wasn't really considering doing anything with the material until Tsujihara started pushing her, and that she's doing it because of his enthusiasm for what these films could be. The article also mentions some other expected Warner Bros properties like Looney Tunes and DC's various comic book titles as priorities for the studio, but it is significant to note just how much trouble they've had getting either of those properties up and running in a meaningful way. I know people who have worked on various Looney Tunes related projects over the years, and they always sound like awful development processes. Joe Dante told me a story once about an executive who sent him notes on "Looney Tunes: Back In Action" that actually complained about Bugs Bunny using the phrase "What's Up, Doc?" in dialogue because the exec didn't think it was funny. There will most likely be a book written at some point years from now about the struggles DC has had with their comic-book characters and just how many near-misses there have been over the years.
For now, it seems like Rowling's trilogy is one of the smartest bets the studio could make. I've been so impressed with her post-"Potter" fiction, and I think she's got storytelling chops that we're still just starting to explore. There are many writers who get lucky with one thing that the public loves but who never really have anything else to say, and Rowling does not seem to have that problem at all.
There is no release date yet for "Fantastic Beasts." That is a good thing.