While many Potter fans are sensitive and hostile to the idea, we think a reboot could be the best thing to happen to Harry Potter.
We’re sick of listing the things we would change about the current Potter films, or hoping for a reboot in 50 years time, we want one right now. Tomorrow, if possible. After all, it would be hard work camping out at that midnight premiere with our walking sticks and dentures.
Of course, we don’t for a second believe it will actually happen, and producer David Heyman has made it clear a reboot is not in the cards. But we’re Harry Potter fans – boring old reality won’t stop us dreaming of the perfect adaptation.
We also understand that many Potter fans truly adore the films, and that is their prerogative. However we will always consider ourselves fans of JK Rowling’s wonderful series first and foremost, and we don’t see any harm in discussing what could have been done better in adapting Potter for the screen. And we think there’s a lot that could have been done better – enough to warrant an entirely new adaptation.
From the choice of actors and directors to the actual creation of Harry’s world, we have narrowed down our reasons to the magical number of 7. And because we’re completely jaded fans who are accustomed to heartbreak (ahem, Pottermore), we have also explained exactly why don’t expect to see a Potter reboot anytime soon.
1. The books are all finished
This could really be our one and only reason. It wasn’t until Deathly Hallows was published that the story all came together for us die-hard fans, so how were the filmmakers going to know what was important and what wasn’t before it was finished? Sure, JK Rowling was giving them some helpful suggestions, but we only need to remember the disaster that was Snape’s Worst Memory to see that their single strategy of “Oh, ask Jo” did not always work out. Making an adaptation in hindsight would give the production and writing team a complete understanding of character developments and storylines. How can you cast someone in Philosopher’s Stone when you don’t know what they’ll be doing in Deathly Hallows? Not to mention the magic word, foreshadowing, foreshadowing, foreshadowing. JK Rowling was a master of foreshadowing, leaving tiny clues for us to pick up on the way. Can you blame us for wanting to see some of those hints appear in the movies?
2. Make an adaptation truly magical
One of the most important elements of the Harry Potter movies is obviously the magic. And since (spoiler alert) magic doesn’t really exist, it is up to the creators of the movies to bring the magic to life in any way they choose. And as opposed to flashing lights, smoke and mirrors, the Harry Potter movies went with the more technical form of magic: swinging staircases, bolts that unlocked in complicated ways, and wands working like guns. And while a lot of people enjoy the parallels being drawn to the real world by having magic be almost like a replacement for technology, we can’t help but feel that, well, some of the magic got lost by portraying it all this way. Call us old-fashioned, but we like our magic to be a little less practical, a little more magical. We want staircases that go somewhere else on a Tuesday. We want complicated spells doing colourful things. We want circles and curves, not squares and straight lines. One way reboot movies could truly stand out from the originals would be to go in a completely different direction with the visuals, and we’d welcome the change.
3. Use a single director’s vision
With eight different movies filmed over a 10+ year period, it is not really feasible to imagine that the same director would be able to stick around. And we’re willing to bet that very few of you would have been happy with Chris Columbus tackling all seven books. While the different directors allowed the movies to focus on different things and for them all to have different feels, when we rewatch the series now we can’t help but notice the inconsistencies. It’s hard to let yourself get drawn into a world which, well, isn’t really one world at all, but four different versions of it. Rather than the entire series being a learning process and a chance for different directors to experiment with styles, let’s have a complete vision from the get-go this time, and stick through it. Let’s enter Harry’s world when he’s 11 and not leave it until he’s 17, and not feel like we’re being pulled in and out of different filmmakers’ imaginations. After all, Harry Potter wouldn’t have been as gripping of a series if another author had taken over the story halfway through, would it?
4. Find a new committed and talented cast
Here’s looking at you, Michael Gambon. We don’t care about this “He shouldn’t need to read the books, it should all be in the script” argument. If an actor isn’t willing to read the series (that is, if they somehow haven’t already), we personally don’t want them anywhere near this project. It is too special for too many people. We want a passionate, knowledgeable cast, who don’t just care about being considered serious actors, but who care about the story itself. And while we’re on the subject, let’s not forget our personal pet peeve: do a thorough search for the core group of kids. We realise it’s difficult to tell at 9 or 10 or 11 just what kind of an actor a child will grow up to be at 19 or 20, but that is no excuse to cast people on the merit of their hair colour. This is Harry’s story, and Harry and his peers take up the majority of the screen time. Unfortunately if we are being completely objective, the child actors were often the weakest links in the films, and we want to see a new super-talented bunch for the next ones.
5. Incorporate extra canon information
Pottermore who? Yeah, no, that’s not where we want our canon information to come from. Naturally one of the biggest hurdles a reboot of the series would face would be that, well, we’ve already been told the whole story. Not just on the page but visually – we’ve pretty much seen everything Harry’s world has to offer (except of course for the elements of the story that were cut, like the death day party, the Dursleys, and S.P.E.W.). But new movies would present a chance to focus on different parts of the stories. To develop the background characters more, to give them moments that hint at the backstories which at this point we mostly know. JK Rowling would be able to provide all the missing pieces, and we’d come away from these movies feeling like there was a lot hiding under the surface – like every part of every scene offered a ton of easter eggs which only true fans would be able to interpret and appreciate.
6. A chance to try a different medium
A film adaptation is the first thing that studios try when they grab the rights to something, because it is the way to make the most money (duh). And that’s fine, we don’t begrudge film studios and big bosses for simply doing their jobs. But who says that a film is the best way to explore Harry’s journey? We’ve done that, maybe we can try something else (or maybe let’s do new films really really well). Now that the first attempt has been made, it’s finally okay to have a discussion about which platform would really suit Harry Potter. The gift that Warner Bros. has given us is flexibility. Now that films have been done, why not try something different? How about, a TV mini-series that gives us the chance to showcase each book in six or eight hours. Or they could give us a full TV show ala Game of Thrones, or try splitting every book into two films. We aren’t saying that every medium would work as a platform for Potter, but with one film series out of the way, we can at least discuss the possibilities and find the best fit.
7. Celebrate Potter, don’t sensationalise it
There is no denying that the Harry Potter franchise was (and continues to be) a goldmine. The general public can continue to pretend it’s for kids all they want, but that doesn’t change the fact that everyone and their mother, literally, loves the story. The people involved with the movies loved the story too, but they sometimes got a little, what should we call it – carried away? And sometimes the intentions of overexcited studio executives or ambitious directors are not the best thing for such a beloved series like Potter. We don’t want to see a tens of thousands of Death Eaters storming the castle in Deathly Hallows, or Bellatrix destroying the Great Hall in Half-Blood Prince, or even Ginny blowing up the entire Hall of Prophecy in Order of the Phoenix. We actually wouldn’t mind if a Potter reboot wasn’t on as huge a scale as Lord of the Rings or Narnia. In fact, that is what we love about the books themselves. They are deeply personal and character based. Honestly, we’d love to see films that really celebrated what we love about Potter without everything exploding or Voldemort and Harry face-morphing. And if that gives us a slightly downplayed, more consistent story, even better.
And why we won’t get one
The ‘Harry Potter’ Goldmine
Let’s take a quick count here: There are the films themselves, the various overpriced DVD box-sets, the overpriced film books, the Studio Tour in London, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, the touring Potter exhibition and all of the accompanying merchandise. Every one of these things has Daniel Radcliffe’s, Emma Watson’s and Rupert Grint’s faces stamped all over them. Do we think WB is just going to give that all up? Of course not. The Harry Potter franchise has been too successful for it’s own good, no studio would just give up on it. If a new adaptation was made with a different set of actors, all of these tours and theme park rides and box-sets would be made redundant – people would want the new actors, not that old trio from 2007. Of course the Studio Tour, WWoHP and exhibition are great fan experiences, but they also make WB money. Loads and loads of money.
The ‘Spider-Man’ Problem
A Potter reboot also presents potential difficulties in differentiation, or what we like to call ‘The Spider-Man Problem’. If the films are going to be totally rebooted, they have to be different enough from WB’s original series to warrant a new version. Otherwise, what is the point? We want a reboot now, but would audiences turn up to see the same story done with a similar level of special effects? In a perfect world, we would end up with the ultimate Potter adaptation, but in reality we can see how a studio would be reluctant to try and “Make Potter better”, especially given how successful the eight film series has been.
And finally, there’s the issue of fan reaction. Let’s be clear, we consider ourselves huge Harry Potter nerds, but we are fans of the books. Unfortunately for some Potter fans, this is not enough. According to these fans, anything we say against the Potter films is essentially blasphemy. This is understandable to an extent – a lot of the Potter fandom were introduced via the films, or grew up with them in a way that entrenched them in their mind and imagination. To them, Daniel Radcliffe is Harry. Because of this deep devotion, it has become almost impossible to have a rational conversation about the films. Saying “Hey, these films weren’t that great, we should really try making them again” (or even “They could be better”) is incredibly insulting and off-putting to many of the biggest Potter fans. We can’t imagine any studio wanting to alienate the fandom to that level, given that they are the target audience.