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The End of Harry Potter is Just the Beginning

I walked in a Barnes & Noble store Saturday and quickly noticed a Harry Potter display with a sign that read, “It all started with a book.” The display included not just J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, but also an unofficial Harry Potter cookbook, Lego sets and books, a chess set, and wands. With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opening in theaters July 15, Harry Potter mania will take over as fans grapple with the end of 13 years of material based on the books. What is the future of the Harry Potter franchise?

J.K. Rowling’s announcement of the “Pottermore,” an online reading experience, creates a whole new portal for muggles to travel into the wizarding world. Pottermore will launch in October, and boasts partnerships with Bloomsbury, Scholastic, Sony, and Warner Bros. in a Pottermore shop that will sell eBooks of the Harry Potter series. (The series has not yet been released in digital form.) Rowling and her Pottermore team also worked with TH_NK, a UK digital agency, to develop Pottermore, which will include an interactive experience.

To bridge the gap between the final film and Pottermore’s launch, fans still have the Harry Potter amusement park and the traveling Harry Potter: The Exhibition, which is at Discovery Times Square in New York City until September 5. The amusement park helped raise revenue for Universal’s Islands of Adventure Park in Orlando by 16 percent to $95 million during the first quarter of 2011, said Forbes‘s Dorothy Pomerantz.

The Harry Potter franchise brought Warner Bros. around $10 billion during the last 10 years—between $800 million to $1 billion per film at the worldwide box office and around $200 million on DVD/Blu-ray and TV rights for each film, according to Forbes‘s Mark Hughes, which isn’t even counting revenue from merchandise tie-ins.

Hughes expects Warner Bros. to fill the revenue gap left by the end of the Harry Potter movies with superhero movies. But he also says that Harry Potter might not go away. Studios have been mining established franchises for reboots. While I don’t believe that Harry Potter will see a film extension reaching outside of the novels, and I assume that Rowling maintains a clear vision over the brand and quality, I find it unlikely that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is really the end of franchise growth. Perhaps Hughes will see his predicted animated Harry Potter TV series. Or Tales of Beedle the Bard will get the green light for animated specials. New video games could provide new opportunities for the wizarding world.

As someone who has been reading and watching Harry Potter since the sixth grade when I blazed through the first three books, I just can’t accept Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as my last trip from my broom cupboard—also known as a New York City apartment—into a world of magic, but I’d still bet there’s more to come.

—Melissa Tinklepaugh

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