It’s been a couple of weeks since Warner Brothers announced the Fantastic Beasts script would be published as a book. The lack of excitement is deafening.
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February 10, 2016. That was the day that it was announced that the rehearsal script Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which opens in London this July, would be published as a book. The internet erupted in a cataclysm of joy. Ten years after the last Harry Potter book had been published, and 19 years after the story ended, we would once again return to the Potterverse in written form. Nevermind that it’s actually a script, which most people aren’t that familiar with reading. No matter than it’s not even actually written by J.K. Rowling. Sales when through the roof.
Is it all that surprising then that when confronted with this level of interest and this kind of excitement that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them–another brand new story in the Potterverse that does not actually exist in book form, would follow suit? (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the title of a published work, but it’s a faux textbook. It is not in any way the story that is coming to theaters in November.) It seemed to be a slam dunk. After all, this one was written by Rowling, unlike Cursed Child. Moreover, unlike the stage play, which many people are a bit confused about, the movie marketing was very clear so far, and everyone had a good idea of what it was. On April 27th, they announced the publishing date (November 19th), expecting the same joyful reaction.
It;’s been two weeks and most people seem surprised every time I mention that the Fantastic Beasts script is being published. “Oh, you mean the textbook is being re-released?” Well, yes that too, in 2017. But the actual first story set in the Potterverse written by Rowling herself is currently nowhere to be found on any best seller list anywhere. Meanwhile, Cursed Child–which is Not Written By Rowling!–sits in most Top Ten lists. Why?
Is it the words “Harry Potter?” Are they really that magical that we are willing to overlook all the flaws in the product they are delivering? After all, it’s not even the final script that will be performed on stage–it’s the rehearsal script, that the actors received on day one, before the editing process of rehearsals and previews began. Is it that Fantastic Beasts, as a movie, is far more accessible to the average Potterhead, while the Cursed Child stage show is only in London, and only guaranteed to run until June of 2017 at this point? The irony of Rowling’s own writing failing to sell while the script she did not write sells out is strange indeed. is it that Warner Brothers is not used to marketing books, but only movies?
Will the release of Cursed Child in July perhaps kickstart Fantastic Beasts‘ sluggish sales, as fans discover how to read scripts, and how interesting it is to read one and then see it performed, either on a stage or the big screen for comparison? Or will this be Rowling’s first real failed experiment?