How we were spared the 'Howie Potter' franchise

Can Howie Potter, the geeky new arrival at Hogwarts High, use his magic spells to sweep cheerleader queen Hermione off to the prom?

That's how the biggest-grossing franchise in film history might have opened if a plan to relocate Harry Potter to the United States had not been wisely cast into the bin.

David Heyman, the British producer of the £5bn-grossing series, has revealed how he fought off a dastardly plot to turn JK Rowling's epic tale of the schoolboy wizard into a US teen drama, when the film rights were bought by Warner Bros.

Heyman snapped up the rights to the first four Potter books in 1999 and negotiated a deal with Warner Bros worth £1m for Rowling. "In some of the first talks with writers in America there was talk of moving it to the States, you know, cheerleaders and the like," Heyman said. "That just never really rang true because it really was culturally so British. Yet, thematically, it was universal."

Heyman, 51, who went on to produce all eight films in the franchise, told The Independent: "Culturally, Harry Potter is specific, it's British. It wouldn't have made sense for the homes, the institutions and those gothic structures to be set in America."

Heyman stood his ground during the discussions. "One of the things I love about Harry Potter is its truth and honesty. The themes, of being an outsider at school are relatable the world over. But the sense of humour is very British and we had to be true to the feel and language of JK Rowling's books."

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