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The Wizarding World's Cinematic Future Can Still Be Saved By One Magic Spell (But Not A Harry Potter Reboot)

Even now, years after the box-office smash that was "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," the Wizarding World has yet to properly branch out on the big screen. 

At one point in time, it seemed as if this universe could blissfully continue forever. The expanding theme park had recently opened, allowing fans to step directly into the world they'd longed for, complete with a chilled butterbeer. In 2013, author J.K. Rowling announced her plans for a sprawling new film series set way before The Boy Who Lived — the "Fantastic Beasts" series. Ambition couldn't save the Beasts, though, as a slew of unforeseeable controversies tarnished the series, with reception to one film after another leaving Warner Bros. stupefied. For years now, Warner Bros. has disappointingly fumbled any meaningful attempt at continuing the legendary story it began way back in 2001, failing to create a spellbinding follow-up to the original enchanting films. Actions and statements by Rowling herself have only dug this hole ever deeper.

However, the Wizarding World remains beloved by many — and, on a corporate level, a cash cow. The controversial, boycotted video game "Hogwarts Legacy" broke console records (even before its official release date), proving there's still interest in this magical world. With that in mind, it's not hugely surprising that Warner Bros. is rumored to be considering a full-on reboot of the "Harry Potter" films, which would recast all of the iconic roles. 

That's exactly the wrong approach for the powers-that-be to take. Instead, it's time for the studio to dive deep into the well of untapped potential and unexplored territory in the Wizarding World, easily accessible with a swish and a flick. And to do that, the Wizarding World has to speed forward on its broomstick and leave Harry Potter behind.

The Fantastic Beasts series is clearly a bust

Let's start with the elephant in the room: the current Wizarding World film series has got to go. 

Even when first announced, the idea of stretching a thin Hogwarts textbook into an extensive film series was ... a hard sell. Though the setting was exciting (magic in 1920s New York City, what could go wrong?), the story of Newt (Eddie Redmayne) and his wondrous creatures felt like it was being forced into a darker, more epic narrative than he should've been placed in. And without a cohesive tone or message, the series eventually petered out at the box office. While Warner Bros. hasn't officially confirmed the cancellation of the series, the writing is on the wall clearer than the Chamber of Secrets' bloody messages. 

That's not even getting into how riddled with controversies this series has become. From star Ezra Miller's disturbing arrests to Johnny Depp's troubling allegations resulting in his forced quitting, "Fantastic Beasts" became a boiling frog that just keeps suffering and suffering. The third film's box office was a deafening proclamation from fans that between the tired, boring storytelling and the sea of scandals, this isn't a series they want to keep sinking money into. Furthmore, the last "Fantastic Beasts" film's half-hearted veering back into Harry Potter settings and characters weakens the world-building of this universe, rather than strengthening it. Even if this series does get a fourth film to tie things up, the idea that it was supposed to be five films long is laughable. 

J.K. Rowling's abhorrent comments shot the Harry horse directly in the face

In 2020, J.K. Rowling stunned the world when she tweeted transphobic comments, and then doubled down by firmly asserting her bigoted views. Her opinions devastated fans worldwide as they learned the harrowing truth of the once well-regarded author. This led to a fiery wave of backlash that still continues today, especially with the rising popularity of "Hogwarts Legacy."

There's no understating how much these hateful views have damaged Rowling's legacy, and even the love that so many fans hold for the Wizarding World. Since Rowling's transphobia become public knowledge, her more shallow themes began to be scrutinized under a microscope — including her stereotypical character names, which fans find absurd and offensive in hindsight, antisemitic tropes, and more. In fact, "Harry Potter" actress Katie Leung even spoke out against her character's name, Cho Chang, which she finds embarrassing and hurtful. 

As the downfall of the "Fantastic Beasts" series shows, fans' spending decisions play a critical role in deciding the kind of content that gets made. With Rowling now in scalding hot water, the world she created clearly needs to move beyond her influence, and start taking on a life of its own. That also, again, means leaving Harry Potter in the rearview mirror — and not embarking on a "Cursed Child" movie. 

If you or someone you know are LGBTQ+ and are in crisis or are in need of a safe space to talk, check out The Trevor Project's website, or call the TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386. Chat and text options are also available.

The Cursed Child ain't happening yet, so let's not even bother trying

Now, before we start tackling what Warner Bros. should do, let's rule out the one thing they really, really want to do: a film adaptation of the stage play, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," which became the highest grossing Broadway production of 2018. 

Co-written by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, the new format takes a somewhat outlandish story (in an alternate timeline, Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange have a child), and infuses astonishing special effects with top-notch, emotional performances. The cherry on top is an unlikely friendship that actually drives the story home, featuring Harry and Ginny's son Albus, and Draco Malfoy's son Scorpius. 

Would this legacy sequel work as well on the big screen? Eventually, probably. "Sorcerer's Stone" director Chris Columbus even noted to Variety that, "I would love to direct 'The Cursed Child.' It's a great play and the kids are actually the right age to play those roles. It's a small fantasy of mine." 

But right now, if the Wizarding World dips back into the "Harry Potter" well in the wake of the "Fantastic Beasts" films falling on their face, it would spell doom for any hope of a wider cinematic universe. Besides that, Danielle Radcliffe isn't interested at this time, so debate on this is pointless. Simply enough, the timing isn't right for "The Cursed Child" to be adapted for the big screen. 

Wizarding World fans are ready for something truly original -- and darker

Naturally, the final two films in the "Harry Potter" series were the darkest and most mature. From Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) viciously torturing Hermione (Emma Watson), to Fenrir Greyback's (Dave Legeno) grisly murder of Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave), the "Deathly Hallows" films certainly went out with a deafening bang. Now, to be fair, there's plenty of grim themes in "Fantastic Beasts," but we've already covered where that series went wrong. 

The answer to which direction the Wizarding World should head to, at this point, lies in the astronomical sales of "Hogwarts Legacy." Set in the 1800s, the game is far enough away from the setting of the original series to truly feel like its own thing, as it allows players to explore the world well before Harry, Newt, or any of the characters we know and love, even if it's still set in Hogwarts. Surprisingly, the game even allows players to use all three Unforgivable Curses (of which Harry himself used two out of three). Put the pieces together, and it's clear that fans now want a more adult take on the Wizarding World, with greater moral complexity.

That theory was even tested back in 2011, when IGN surprised the world with "The Aurors" — unforgettable April Fool's prank, which consisted of a fake one-minute trailer for a gritty FX series about dark wizard catchers. Fans rejoiced, and the comments were full of die-hards crying out for a release date until IGN revealed "The Aurors" was only a joke. The imaginary series featured no Golden Trio, yet viewers found themselves interested and revitalized by the originality — even without Rowling's involvement, a factor that, at this point, would be a feature instead of a bug.

The Wizarding World needs new characters, new focus, new perspectives (and less Rowling)

The key here: the Wizarding World needs to explore different types of characters in plots that aren't just a rinse and repeat of the Harry Potter ones, without feeling a need to keep going back to the same tropes, characters, and settings from the original Harry Potter series. Controversies aside, Potterheads have made it abundantly clear that they want to dive deeper into this universe, rather than following the same old roads, and it's now up to the studios to find the right incantation to bring the magic back to life. 

We don't need brand-new characters necessarily, either: we can even use someone from those "Fantastic Beasts" films. One thing "Secrets of Dumbledore" did do right was give us more of Jessica Williams as the bold and mystical Eulalie Hicks. The hilarious half of "2 Dope Queens" is an avid Potterhead in real-life, and on-screen, her character intrigued audiences with her expert wand-work and a backstory from the heretofore underexplored American wizarding school, Ilvermorny. Even if Warner Bros. leaves "Fantastic Beasts" behind, there's absolutely no reason that Eulalie couldn't be the focus of her own movie, particularly since the actress has already spoken at length to Collider about the character's intriguing roots as a Black American witch in early-20th century Harlem. 

The Wizarding World expansion doesn't have to stop there (what about a sports-themed Quidditch movie, for instance?). In fact, we'd argue that for Warner Bros. next big movie, it should go back to where it all started — that is, what about a film that follows the four towering Hogwarts founders?

The Founders of Hogwarts are the perfect recipe for Wizarding World's future success

The staggering sales of "Hogwarts Legacy" unveils the key medicine for the Wizarding World's recovery. It's pretty clear that fans are yearning to return home to Hogwarts, but not in the bland, jumbled way "Fantastic Beasts" tried. The approach needs to be more focused, with less immediate ties to the original franchise, especially if the brand continues distancing itself from Rowling ("Hogwarts Legacy" notably did not work with the now infamous author, though she inevitably receives royalties). 

In that regard, going back to Hogwarts does trigger the nostalgia button — but if we want to expand this universe, instead of shrinking it, there's no better approach than to show us the awe-inspiring creation of Hogwarts itself, and the collapse of The Founders' friendship. 

The monumental duel between Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin would surely be a fitting consolation prize for the Albus, Grindelwald, and Aberforth one we never got to in "Fantastic Beasts." We don't need a five-part series, either. Warner Bros. should just go way back in time, really open this world up, and give audiences one lengthy entry that, if done right, opens up new spin-offs. 

With adult witches and wizards in the spotlight, the story can be more mature and geared towards the viewers who crave a more grown-up version of the Wizarding World. The potential is endless, particularly if the film were to set up the origin of iconic franchise pieces like the Sorting Hat and Gryffindor's Sword. This is the perfect balance of distance and familiarity that the Wizarding World can summon with a simple "Accio!," and it'd be the perfect magic spell to finally remind audiences why it fell in love with this series in the first place.