Just when you thought the magic of “Harry Potter” had finally, tragically come to a close, best-selling author J.K. Rowling made news Thursday when she announced a wizard world movie in the works.
Gainesville residents took to social media with their excitement, often expressed in all caps and followed by exclamation points. It seemed that Harry Potter fans everywhere where letting out one collective gasp at the announcement.
“I actually sat down and thought about the date because I thought, ‘Is this an April Fools joke?’” said series fan Carolina de la Rosa. “I was not expecting it at all.”
The film will mark Rowling’s screenwriting debut, taking the world she has created and giving audiences insight into a different time period with new characters.
The Warner Bros. film, titled “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” will be based on the Hogwarts textbook of the same name, which Rowling published in 2001. The film will take place 70 years before the events of the “Harry Potter” series begin.
De la Rosa, 19 and a UF health science major, read the series in middle school and has been a fan since. She also read “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” but questions whether fans who are not as dedicated to the series will go see the film.
“For the people that are like me and that have been dedicated for a long time, they’ll definitely go see it,” she said.
Rowling is the film’s screenwriter, a fact De la Rosa took comfort in.
The story follows Newt Scamander, the fictional author of the textbook and grandfather of Rolf Scamander, who eventually marries Luna Lovegood. It will be set away from the rolling hills of Great Britain, instead beginning in New York in what will become the first of a franchise of films based on Newt and his adventures.
“Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt,” Rowling wrote in a statement on her website.
The story will maintain the same laws and customs of the magical world of the “Harry Potter” series, making it possible for fans of the book or movie series to follow along.
Daniella de la Riva, a 21-year-old UF English major, was a fan of the movies before ever reading the books. After reading the books in high school, she said the movie adaptations lost a lot of the character development from the novels.
She said she hopes those problems disappear in this film with Newt.
“We don’t know anything about him, so it might really be just a good, fresh perspective for us because we just know the world, but not that character,” she said. “So we won’t be as obsessed with, ‘Oh his eyes are a different color or his hair is supposed to be messy.’”
Either way, she’ll be at the midnight screening as usual, she said.
Rowling also specified that the book is not a prequel or sequel to the original series, “but an extension of the wizarding world.”
Rebekah Fitzsimmons, Ph.D. candidate in children’s literature at the University of Florida, wrote her master’s thesis on the interactions between the “Harry Potter” stories and bestsellers lists. Fitzsimmons has been a lifelong “Harry Potter” fan.
For her, the announcement came as a surprise.
“I think in some ways it’s a little bit risky,” she said. “So many loved the ‘Harry Potter’ series, both the books and the movies, that there’s going to be a lot of hype and a lot of expectation for a new movie. With those high expectations come a lot of risks for disappointment, too.”
Fitzsimmons doesn’t doubt the movie will result in success.
“I think it’s a really shrewd move by J.K. Rowling,” she said. “The idea of making the move to start screenwriting but also to continue to satisfy her fans with a new take on the ‘Harry Potter’ world I think is very fascinating.”
By Thursday afternoon, the initial wave of euphoria caused “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “Harry Potter” and Warner Bros. to be trending on Twitter.
The “Harry Potter” films garnered $7.7 billion in the worldwide box office, making them the highest grossing film franchise of all time. Along with that have been an estimated 450 million copies sold of the books, which have been translated into 72 languages. Harry’s story even inspired the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.
“I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it,” Rowling said.
The magic, it seems, is here to stay.