Will lightning strike twice for Harry Potter and the spin-off film?

Judging from this summer's substandard franchise-milking film spin-offs, probably not

Share
Related Topics

“I always knew that Harry's story would end with the seventh book... Deathly Hallows is my favourite, and that is the most wonderful way to finish the series,” JK Rowling said in 2007. Last year, she moved away from witchcraft and wizardry with an acclaimed and moderately successful crime novel addressing the ills of modern, Tory-led Broken Britain. She seemed to be bravely moving forward. And then came the inevitable announcement.

There will be a new Harry Potter film. It's not cashing in, she says. It's a legitimate and exciting spin-off, Warner Bros. try to argue. The film is based on the 2001 booklet ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, a directory of mythical beasts originally written for Comic Relief.

To be fair to Rowling, she has remained almost true to her word. It's neither a prequel nor a sequel. In fact, it isn't really even a book. It's an A-Z list of made-up animals, recreating one of Harry's school textbooks on Magizoology.

According to Rowling, the film will focus on the life of little-known character Newt Scarmander, 70 years before Harry and his lot came along, presumably going around finding different beasts. And what wouldn't be thrilling about watching two hours of a magical Noah's Ark PowerPoint slideshow? Here is a Hippogriff. Oh, look, a Flobberworm. Look at the teeth on that Acromantula. And so on.

As a Potter fan, I have put aside my cynicism for all the books and the films. Yes, it’s making lots of money, but it also has well-drawn characters and sound moral lessons. But, even to me, this new project sounds like a lot of CGI-generated beasts with great potential for more related merchandising, video games, apps, theme parks and whatnot. So, yes, kind of milking the franchise.

Cast aside your Divination notebooks and put away those Potions recipes, Joanne. What have you learnt from history? Are sequels ever good? Or, how often do you see a genuinely great film that has a number or a colon in the title? You’ve already had seven – do you need any more?

This summer's film sequels/prequels/remakes/spin-offs are indicative of wider franchise trends. You may have been fooled by Before Midnight (the third instalment in one of film's perfect trilogies), Alan Partridge (a spin-off from the TV shows), and Ulrich Seidl's 'Paradise' trilogy, all of which have been worthy examples of franchises.  ‘Only God Forgives’ (a semi-follow-up to Drive), was divisive, but it sparked fierce debate among cinephiles and was hailed as a masterpiece by some. The occasional sequel in the past (Mad Max II, Toy Story II and III, Godfather II) has even been better than the first.

However, history is littered with ill-judged sequels (e.g. Godfather III, Star Wars I-III, Twilight, etc). We are all still trying to forget Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull. And, true to form, most of this summer's franchise offerings (Kick Ass 2, Grown Ups 2, Smurfs 2, Monsters University and The Wolverine), were not so good. Iron Man 3 was received as kind of 'meh'. And it doesn’t end here: there is a Jurassic Park 4 film in the works, and even more Star Wars on the horizon.  

Step away, JK. The new film might be great. Odds say it probably won't be. Ok, your last book ‘The Casual Vacancy’ was flawed. ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’, published under pseudonym Robert Galbraith, sold relatively well for an unknown author, even if it wasn’t a runaway success. But at least they weren't Potter. Look to David Bowie: he has re-invented himself every couple of years, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so (hello, Tin Machine), but he hasn’t just stuck with something that has been proven to work. Like Woody Allen says about relationships (or sharks, or artists): if it doesn't move forward, it dies.

If the aim is to raise money for Comic Relief, great. It wouldn’t necessarily make it great art, but it would be for a worthy cause. If the aim is to further fund the studios - and they've already squeezed two films out of the final book – don’t do it. They'll just spend the money on more sequels anyway.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album