It’s important to remember the ongoing controversial statements by the creator of the Harry Potter franchise. CBR supports the hard work of industry professionals on properties fans know and love, and the wider world of Harry Potter that fans have adopted as their own. You can find CBR’s continuing coverage on Rowling here.
In April 2023, Warner Bros. Discovery announced a Harry Potter TV series was in the works for Max. But instead of continuing with the established Wizarding World the films created, WBD is looking to recapture the magic by retelling the groundbreaking story in a serial format, with each season covering one of Harry’s adventurous years at Hogwarts. WBD’s plans for the Harry Potter franchise aren’t dissimilar from what the studio is doing with the DC Universe — trying to give a legendary property a fresh start.
But the idea of a TV series has been greeted with a mixed reception. Some book purists are anticipating elements missing from the Harry Potter films, while other fans can’t imagine a project without Daniel Radcliffe as the Boy Who Lived. With the show in early development, WBD must be exploring all its options to reinvent one of their biggest franchises, and the best way to do that is to make the series animated.
The Original Harry Potter Films Are Far Too Iconic
The Harry Potter TV series will inevitably face constant comparison to the films — and rightfully so. The original Harry Potter films are iconic, with John Williams’ score and Stuart Craig’s production design even being used in WBD’s announcement video for the TV series to help drum up excitement. Yet for a live-action remake to be worthwhile, it would have to have its own style and feel separate from those well-known elements.
In animation, audiences would be more willing to accept a new look to the Wizarding World because they’d be seeing it through the lens of a different medium. Animation would allow for keeping visual and musical cues such as Hogwarts castle and “Hedwig’s Theme” intact. Presenting those elements in animation makes that retention more feasible because it’s easier and less expensive — look no further than Batman: The Animated Series. The incredibly popular Universal theme park attractions can also remain untouched since they wouldn’t have to change their designs once the new series hits Max. There would still be value to the live-action aesthetic of the films; an animated series would just be a new way of looking at it.
The Harry Potter films also featured top-tier British talent, and more could be involved with the new series. It’s quite the commitment to nail down major stars for a decade-long movie series. When the films were in production, there were also plenty of rumors that WBD needed to recast due to the actors aging out of their roles. Emma Watson revealed in Return to Hogwarts that she considered leaving after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. With a voice cast, that wouldn’t be necessary — but if a recast was needed for some reason, it would be much easier to do. Having as much flexibility as possible is critical for a project of the Harry Potter TV series’ magnitude, because Max clearly expects it to last for a long time.
Spider-Verse and TMNT Have Taken Animation to New Heights
Animation is having quite the moment in 2023 with the box office successes of The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which earned $1.3 billion and $687 million respectively (per Box Office Mojo). The updated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem also fared well critically, with a 97% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. All three franchises had previously failed in live-action, and that’s what Harry Potter has to overcome after the disappointment of Fantastic Beasts. With animation successfully reinvigorating other big properties, it’s becoming a popular format in Hollywood.
It’s also hard to find major fantasy and sci-fi franchises that don’t have animated projects, and Harry Potter is among the few with untapped potential. The closest thing to an animated Harry Potter viewers have received was in the first Deathly Hallows movie, during the stunning “Tale of the Three Brothers” sequence, which proved animation can work for the Wizarding World. Animation also hasn’t been exclusive to a younger crowd for decades; shows like Invincible, Rick and Morty and Star Wars: The Bad Batch have proven a much wider audience exists. Viewers of all ages are embracing animation now more than ever, since it offers something stylistically different.
Pivoting to animation from live-action is not unheard of. That’s the direction Illumination took with Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Grinch after JIm Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas received mixed reviews. An animated Harry Potter project isn’t a new idea either — Steven Spielberg saw the potential when he was circling the first film decades ago. Harry Potter is long overdue for an entry into animation, and with the medium being more popular among fans and critics alike, the TV series is the perfect opportunity to solve that problem.
An Animated Harry Potter Leaves Room for a Deathly Hallows Sequel – And More
According to a rumor from The Hot Mic, WBD tried to court Radcliffe, Watson and Rupert Grint for a ninth movie that would have been based on the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The studio was reportedly unsuccessful due to J.K. Rowling’s involvement, thus leading them to produce a reboot instead. By going to animation instead of live-action, the door remains open for the actors to reprise their roles in a film sequel to Deathly Hallows, because they won’t have been replaced. Given the warm reception to the Return to Hogwarts reunion special, WBD will surely want to re-approach Radcliffe, Watson and Grint at some point.
Across the Spider-Verse and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem have also proven that animation lends itself to many feats that live-action can’t accomplish. Imagine the endless possibilities with magic as the narrative’s driving force. There are a lot of incredible Harry Potter illustrations from artists such as Mary GrandPré that capture a completely different — yet equally exciting — feel for the Wizarding World. Having an animated TV series would allow the show to coexist alongside the live-action movies, while also pursuing brand new stories.
WBD has plenty of time to determine what’s best for the Harry Potter series. The Fantastic Beasts films didn’t perform at the box office, but Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hogwarts Legacy and Return to Hogwarts have since proven there’s still tremendous interest in the franchise. An animated adaptation can take full advantage of that popularity and accomplish the studio’s goal of doing something new, without taking away from the Harry Potter fans know and love.
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