Harry Potter goes to Hollywood

HARRY POTTER, the schoolboy wizard adored by 156,000 adults and children since the publication last summer of J K Rowling's book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, has been bought up by Hollywood in a "seven-figure" film deal.

After seven months of secret negotiations, the movie contract with Warner Bros was finally agreed last week, amid much competition from other studios. The deal means that the phenomenally successful, award-winning story of an apprentice magician and his studies at Hogwarts School will be turned into a live action film - rather than a cartoon animation - within the next two to three years.

The director and cast of the movie have yet to be determined, but the search will soon begin for the right child to play Harry - a young orphan who is forced to live under the stairs by cruel relatives, until one day he learns that he is really the son of famous wizards.

The huge popularity of the book - which, along with its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, continues to dominate both hardback and paperback bestseller lists - will ensure that the actor chosen is immediately catapulted to star status. He is also likely (and here lies the rub for many readers) to be an American.

Ardent fans of Rowling's hero are already nervous at the prospect of the wholesale transportation of the story to an American setting. They fear that the cleverly pastiched atmosphere of a British boarding school will be lost in translation. And how, they wonder, will the mythical platform 93/4 at King's Cross Railway Station - a location that functions like the wardrobe in C S Lewis's Narnian Chronicles - be altered for US cinema audiences?

"It is essentially English in the way it talks about school-life. There is even a school game at Hogwarts which the author calls Quidditch and which they play on broomsticks," said Lulu Heathfield, a solicitor from Brighton who is enjoying reading the first book to her son, Orlando. "I suppose they would have to make it Ivy League or preppy if they set it in America.

"The story creates a whole world like Mervyn Peake or C S Lewis, and it is full of wordplay and witticisms that make use of European linguistic heritage," she said.

David Heyman, the London-based producer behind the film deal, says his own preference is for a British setting too.

"I hope to shoot it here because this is where the book is set," he said. "But I think it would work just as well over there. We have not decided on a director or cast yet; what comes first is finding a screenwriter."

J K Rowling herself, currently on a tour to promote the launch of the first book in the US, is to be closely involved with the development of the film, Mr Heyman confirmed.

"I fell in love with these books," he said, "even though I don't have any children. Other adults I have spoken to about the book have felt the same way. One couple read the book on holiday and ended up tearing it down the spine and passing the pages to each other one by one, they were enjoying it so much."

The first book was written by J K Rowling - aka Joanne Rowling - during snatched moments in an Edinburgh cafe called Nicolson's. A divorced, unemployed, single mother, without a home of her own at the time she started to write, the success of the two books has been a genuine rags-to-riches ride for the author. She still visits Nicolson's, however, and says she is now proud to buy more than one cup of coffee over a two-hour period.

Her publisher, Bloomsbury, has been quick to acknowledge the appeal of the 223-page novel for adult readers as well as children. This month it brought out a specially-designed adult cover for the book to run in tandem with the children's livelier jacket design. This is a stunt rarely pulled in the book world although Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World also came out in two separate covers, aimed at different age groups.

In the US, the first book is being published by Scholastic, under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and next year will be the leading title in the publishing house's book club, which reaches an estimated 47 million members.

J K Rowling, who plans four more titles in the series, is currently working on the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz