Let’s Art-iculate #4: Has Harry Potter Gone Too Far?

Seven actual books, three spin-off books, seven audio-books, eight films, six dedicated and money-spinning Harry Potter attractions worldwide, seven theme park rides, eleven video games, a trilogy of prequel films set to be released from 2016, and now the announcement of two sequel plays opening in London next year. I am the first to declare that I adore anything and everything Harry Potter-related, but with the news of yet more Potter, I, and many others, will be asking ourselves if this time, the franchise has gone too far.

No one could have predicted or expected the phenomenal success that started with one book about a boy wizard. But after sales of over four hundred and fifty million copies worldwide, translation into seventy-three languages, and global commercial success, these seven humble books have become one of the best-selling series in history. The franchise has also left their author, J.K. Rowling, as Britain’s most successful – and richest – living author, with an estate worth in excess of a predicted $1 billion dollars.

Rowling’s success and rags to riches story is undeniably inspiring. With a franchise as beloved as Harry Potter, it is easy to see why it may be considered foolish to not create new stories and continue the run of success and popularity it has thus far enjoyed. But is it right to do so? Others will see this only as the opportunity for further financial gain and exploitation by the franchise’s author and creators.

“But the question remains – do we need more Potter added to the excess of Potter we have already?”

Many will argue that Harry Potter will continue to expand as long as fans remain interested, which many will. Visitor numbers at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London continually hit five thousand a day, and its success is again evident with the extension in March of this year of Platform 9 ¾. I myself have visited this attraction no less than three times, and the sheer scale and popularity of this Harry Potter fan’s heaven never fails to impress.

But the question remains – do we need more Potter added to the excess of Potter we have already? Even as a devoted fan, when I heard of 2016’s prequel film trilogy Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, I must admit I was dismayed. Despite adoring Harry Potter, I believe you can have too much of a good thing. The spin-off book the trilogy will be based on, simply doesn’t have enough substance to allow one film to be made from its contents, let alone three. For me, the fact three films are being made simply stretches the premise even further than necessary, and I can’t help feeling that with this Potter overload, fans may simply become fed up.

“Personally, I cannot help feeling that Harry Potter was perfect as it was”

Imagine then, my horror when a two-part Harry Potter play was announced, with the full details becoming clear in mid-October. Based on an original story by Rowling, this play is advertised as the eighth story in the Harry Potter series, and the first to be delivered on stage. Beginning nineteen years after the end of Deathly Hallows, and focusing on Harry’s youngest son Albus, the play is in two parts intended to be seen on the same or consecutive days. Again, this highlights the excessive nature that seems to have stricken the creators of the play. Despite assuring audiences that two hundred and fifty tickets for each performance will be available at £20 or less, this expense is still excessive for some fans who will want to travel from across the world to see Harry Potter’s new incarnation. It also remains to be seen if the play and its story will live up to the original novels, or if it will be a step too far. Personally, I cannot help feeling that Harry Potter was perfect as it was, and any further exploitation is simply overkill.

Amy Wilcockson

Image credit: Karen Roe via Flickr

For more Let’s Art-iculate follow Impact Arts on Facebook and Twitter

ArtsLet's Art-iculate

Leave a Reply