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.

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes