Holy hippogriffs!

J.K. Rowling is heading back to the Harry Potter universe, though not in the way that fans may have expected.

Warner Bros. announced today that they are partnering with Rowling for a new film series based on FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.  Published in 2001 — between GOBLET OF FIRE and ORDER OF THE PHOENIX — the slim volume is written by “Newt Scamander” and was the textbook used by Harry and his first-year classmates at Hogwarts.

The film will predate the Harry Potter series and feature Scamander as a character. fantasticbeasts

According to the official press release:

 Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world,” said Rowling. “The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.”

Plans are also in the works to develop the title even further, from consumer products to video games and Pottermore.com, the digital home for all things Potter.

I know fans have been clamoring for more adventures of Harry Potter, and I feel their pain. Reaching the end of DEATHLY HALLOWS six years ago was a bittersweet moment. He Who Must Not Be Named had been defeated, although at great cost. An epilogue gave us a glimpse at Harry and his friends as they sent their own children off to Hogwarts.

But Harry’s story arc was complete. Trying to milk something further out of it— even a “Potter: The Next Generation” — wouldn’t have felt genuine, either as a book or film series.

I’m excited about the FANTASTIC BEASTS idea, though. Set so long before the events in the books, it opens the door for all new adventures that could flesh out the world Rowling created without having to worry about living in Harry’s shadow.

Now, here’s hoping the studio uses an accio charm to summon a director who can bring the magic to life.