A Setback for Harry Potter

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

It's a Rough Road to Hollywood

by Holly Hartman

This article was posted on January 20, 2000.

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Fans of both the Harry Potter series and the work of Steven Spielberg, director of such films as E.T. and Jurassic Park, were excited by last month's announcement that the Hollywood hitmaker had agreed to bring Harry to the silver screen. Alas, it was not meant to be. "At this time, my directorial interests are taking me in another direction," says the Oscar-winning director. "Most importantly, I look forward to reading the fourth Harry Potter book this summer and taking my family to see the first movie next summer."

The movie is still due to be released in summer 2001. Warner Brothers, the studio that owns the movie rights to the first two Harry Potter books, is considering a number of other directors for the project. It has not been reported whether the British government has postponed its efforts to help casting crews find their Harry among countless eager schoolboys.

Scottish author J. K. Rowling is on hand to approve the script. "I'm more involved than I thought I would be," she says, though the visual side is left to the moviemakers. "I can't wait to see how they will pull off a quidditch game," says Rowling. She chose Warner Brothers as a studio in part because they promised her the film would be live action rather than animation.

In case you've been wondering, the movie script will reveal the twelve uses for dragon's blood (Rowling claims that use #12 is "oven cleaner").

Your Very Own Nimbus 2000?

Kids may still be using their family's bathrobes and broomsticks to play at Hogwarts lessons and quidditch games, but expect a flood of Harry Potter merchandise after the film is released. Warner Brothers is also reported to be looking into designing a Harry Potter theme park.

If the enthusiasm of Harry fans is any barometer, Harry Potter loot will be an international sensation. The books have been so wildly popular that in England new volumes are not released until the school day ends, in order to cut down on devoted readers playing hooky. Meanwhile, the British publisher is issuing the books with new covers designed to appeal specifically to adults.

J. K. Rowling's Chamber of Secrets

What's to come in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, due in July of this year? Rowling knows, but she's not telling. "Before I had finished the first book," she says, "I had plotted all seven books about Harry." There will be one book for each of Harry's years at Hogwarts. At the end of the series Harry will be seventeen.

Rowling does admit that an important character will die in the fourth book. Harry will also get his first crush; Rowling says that "careful readers of book three will already know who the girl is." In book five, we will finally learn why Harry has to spend every summer with those lousy Dursleys.

The character you might be most surprised to see evolve is none other than the Sorting Hat. "There is more to the Sorting Hat than what you have read about in the first three books," Rowling says. "Readers will find out what the Sorting Hat becomes as they get into future books."

One thing readers won't find is the return of Harry's parents. Rowling has said that she had to decide carefully what magic could and couldn't do in her books, and that magic will not bring back the dead. But Harry's parents will continue to be an important part of the stories. In particular, the fact that Harry "has his mother's eyes" will be "very important in a future book," says the secretive author.

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