After a long run of dizzying success, the Wizarding World has been struggling for years now. The Harry Potter series received universal acclaim, attracting auteurs like Alfonso Cuarón and casting a spell on audiences of all ages. Results were instantly visible at the box office, with every film in the series grossing over $700 million and two — Philosopher’s Stone and Deathly Hallows – Part 2 — surpassing the $1 billion mark. Harry Potter was a cultural phenomenon, a franchise that revitalized the fantasy genre and defined an entire generation.
Logically, Warner Bros. sought to exploit the Wizarding World by greenlighting another franchise based on the spinoff book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Although enthusiasm was waning, the first film was intriguing enough to entice fans to come back. Once it became clear the saga was heading toward yet another wizarding war, audiences lost interest. Critics panned the sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald, a film that single-handedly derailed the Wizarding World thanks to its lack of purpose and meaningless storytelling. Controversies surrounding Potter author J.K. Rowling, Johnny Depp, and Ezra Miller added fuel to the already raging fire, and now that the third film has come along, the damage seems beyond repair. The Secrets of Dumbledore received a better critical reception, but it wasn’t enough to save a ship that had already hit the iceberg and was flooding with water.
Fans are still passionate about the Wizarding World, but they couldn’t be less interested in Grindelwald’s war. Not even a limp and underdeveloped romance between Dumbledore and Grindelwald could attract audiences to this dying franchise. Nevertheless, Harry’s spell still packs some punch. The Potter saga remains one of HBO Max’s main assets, and the theme parks keep generating solid business. Furthermore, fans are eagerly waiting for the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy video game, confirming that the Wizarding World is everything but dead.
It could be easy to think that the answer is going back to Hogwarts, away from the adult witches and wizards that took the charm away from the movies. Others might suggest bringing Harry, Ron, and Hermione back — the so-called Golden Trio that carried the original franchise on their backs. However, the solution might not be so simple, especially with Rowling’s shadow looming large over the School of Witcraft and Wizardry.
So, if Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are so closely associated with Rowling, and considering Fantastic Beasts was, objectively, a failure, can the Wizarding World still thrive? The simple answer is yes. However, it needs to get away from Rowling, which means letting go of its legacy characters in favor of new ones that better represent the vast fandom that remains loyal. A post-Fantastic Beasts Wizarding World can exist without J.K. Rowling; it’s just a matter of perspective.
The Wizarding World is vast and full of opportunities. There are a million ways to exploit it without directly involving Rowling. Take the past of the magical community, barely developed in the original books and seldom mentioned in the current franchise. Merlin, one of the most iconic characters in pop culture, is part of the Potter canon, and so is King Arthur. What would Camelot look like in the context of the Wizarding World? King Arthur’s story keeps fascinating audiences to this day, so mixing him with the Wizarding World seems like a match made in heaven. Merlin attended Hogwarts and belonged to Slytherin, adding an extra layer of complexity to the plot, as Slytherins are infamous among the magical community. After all, not all Slytherins are dark wizards, but all dark wizards are Slytherins, or so the Harry Potter books have said.
Indeed, the Wizarding World has a black-and-white approach to heroism and villainy. You are either good or bad; there’s no in-between. Since we are living in the age of the antihero, what better time is there to introduce one to the world of Harry Potter? Perhaps a swashbuckler buccaneer or maybe a charming knight from medieval times? The U.K.’s history is rich and intricate, so why do fans know so little about its magical past?
We don’t need to see how the Ministry of Magic came to be, but it might be interesting to see magic during a real-life event, perhaps during the Crusades, long before the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy became a law? An adventure during the Tudor period sounds like the perfect mix of opulence, intrigue, and magic. Anne Boleyn was once called a witch; perhaps she was one in the Wizarding World? Magic was a major form of entertainment during Victorian England, and films like The Prestige and The Illusionist already proved there is an audience for those stories.
Quidditch is a major part of the Potter franchise. Some of the best moments in the early films showcased quidditch, an incredible sport that many people would love to play in real life. Some, in fact, do; in 2012, Oxford University hosted the Global Games, featuring teams from the U.K., U.S., Canada, France, and Australia. Nowadays, the International Quidditch Association is open to “elite international competition teams selected by any of the IQA’s eligible National Governing Bodies.” It will host its next cup in Richmond, Virginia, in 2023.
Some quidditch players aren’t even Potter fans; they’re in it for the thrill of the sport. Even if there are no flying brooms, quidditch is still exciting and extraordinary, inspiring devotion from loyalists and non-fans of the franchise alike. Quidditch is the perfect example of the Wizarding World going beyond Rowling’s original creation, becoming a thing capable of standing on its own. So where the heck is the quidditch film?
Sports films are a big thing in Hollywood. The best examples successfully mix elements of romance, drama, comedy, and sometimes even fantasy with the sports they center around. Films like Jerry Maguire, Bull Durham, and The Hustler present the perfect combination of sport and romance, while others like Raging Bull, The Pride of the Yankees, and Caddyshack feature a blend of genres that elevates them past conventionalism, turning them into instant classics.
A quidditch film would allow fans to witness the game in all its fast-paced and violent glory while experiencing a new side to the Wizarding World. It could take an A League of Their Own-like approach and center on the all-female team, the Holyhead Harpies. Why not make it a romance instead, perhaps between captains of rival teams as they prepare to play the Quidditch World Cup, Wimbledon-style? Otherwise, the film could revolve entirely around a quidditch team and its highs and lows — Friday Night Lights with a magical twist. The possibilities are endless for a quidditch movie, especially considering the sports’ name recognition and wide appeal.
Rowling infamously spent very little time developing her Wizarding World beyond the U.K. The Fantastic Beasts franchise was supposed to expand beyond Europe, choosing New York as the setting for its first film. However, future entries returned to the Old Continent, visiting Paris and Berlin, but staying firmly within an English-speaking context. Rowling has made only vague mentions about the magical community in places like Africa or South America, making her creation rather narrow-minded.
But the Potter franchise was massive internationally; the Wizarding World has grossed over $9 billion worldwide, with most of it coming from the international box office. It’s clear fans around the globe want to see more of the Wizarding World, and it doesn’t take much effort to guess they want to see themselves represented in the franchise they so adore. So why is the Wizarding World so afraid of expanding into new territories?
Surely, magic has a rich history in Africa, perhaps tied up with ancient Egyptians and their priests. However, the entire continent shares one school of magic, Uagadou, which says a lot about Rowling’s worldbuilding skills and priorities. Africa presents a world of opportunities for the franchise. Indeed, the setting might be perfect for another teen-centric adventure, appealing to younger generations and those looking for nostalgia. Black Panther proved there’s a massive audience for stories set in Africa, and it’s honestly strange that no other major franchise has capitalized on it.
South America shares a similar situation, with the Mayans and Aztecs steeped in fascinating mythology that could easily tie into magic. Countries in South America also share one magical school, Castelobruxo, located in the rainforest. That already sounds like an amazing setting for a Wizarding World movie, but things could become even better by adding action-adventure elements à la Indiana Jones. A movie or show centered on this region could have truly inspired casting, gathering characters from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, and, of course, Brazil.
The Wizarding World has stated its commitment to diversity numerous times, but it has yet to feature a lead character who is a person of color in any of its stories. Going international would solve this issue once and for all, proving that the franchise’s diversity claims are more than just cheap talk.
Where does the Wizarding World currently stand? Hard to say. Too many controversies and failures plague it, tainting its once irreproachable legacy. Warner Bros. needs to take a step back and reconsider the direction of its franchise before it becomes too tainted to rescue. The studio needs to take it one step at a time and not begin five-movie sagas without the certainty that audiences want to buy what they’re selling.
Above all, it must understand that the property is vast and sprawling, full of unexplored opportunities waiting for the taking. If developing them means cutting ties with J.K. Rowling, so be it; in fact, it might be better for the franchise’s longevity to separate from Rowling’s damaging and increasingly divisive stances. If Disney could convince George Lucas to sell Lucasfilm, surely Warner Bros. could strike a deal with Rowling to acquire the Wizarding World. And while that might not sound ideal, considering the poor job Warner has done with DC, it might also open a new chapter for the struggling Wizarding World, one where films finally moved away from the dark wizard trope and into more diverse stories.
It won’t be easy because the franchise has suffered considerable damage, but nothing is impossible, and one thing is certain: audiences are still loyal to the brand. Fans are open to new Wizarding World stories — there are enough AO3 and Wattpad fanfics to prove it. Your move, then, Warner.