Harry Potter fans are wondering if the upcoming stage play The Cursed Child, which we already know will be printed in book format, will eventually be released as a movie too.
Right now there is no news concerning a Harry Potter and the Cursed Child movie, but there are many reasons to think it will happen.
For starters, the eight Harry Potter films were a huge, huge, huge success for Warner Brothers. 1/8th of that success came from the brilliant idea of splitting one book into two movies — one of the series’ biggest impacts on the film industry. The studio figured out a new way for Hollywood to make extra lemonade with the fruits they were given. After the success of Deathly Hallows, Twilight’s Breaking Dawn, The Hunger Games’ Mockingjay, and The Hobbit all followed in Harry’s footsteps with financially successful results. One more split is in the pipeline: Divergent’s Allegiant, which opens its final two films derived from one book March 2016 and June 2017.
Further lemonade making is happening now at WB. J.K. Rowling and the studio are currently putting together a Wizarding World spinoff series starring Eddie Redmayne titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The first movie opens November 2016, and two more movies are expected in November 2018 and November 2020. WB came to Rowling with the idea of Fantastic Beasts, and it was only because the author had a story in mind did it happen.
The lemonade making must continue. It will never end. So Warner Brothers is probably very interested in adapting The Cursed Child play into a movie.
“They’re finished with the Wizarding World after Potter and Beasts,” you may be saying. You’re probably wrong! It doesn’t matter to their shareholders what they’ve done in the past — what always matters is what’s ahead. So, they’ll undoubtedly want to continue releasing Wizarding World stories beyond Fantastic Beasts, and The Cursed Child is potentially a delicious piece of meat for them to chew on.
I don’t have any insider information, but I would be willing to bet big money that Mr. Warner Brothers will be knocking on J.K. Rowling’s door at some point (if he hasn’t already) and asking her for the film rights to The Cursed Child’s story. Even if you think J.K. Rowling would tell them no, you’ll have to admit that Mr. Warner Brothers would be crazy not to try.
Should a movie be made, there are two paths for it to take. Both may happen, one may happen, or neither may happen:
Path 1: An adaptation with WB involved
This is the path that WB would probably be most interested in taking. They’d grab the film rights to the story, recast the roles, and market the shit out of “the eighth story coming to movie theaters.”
The main issue with an adaptation is that the play may not be good for film. Rowling has said as much: “The story only exists because the right group of people came together with a brilliant idea about how to present Harry Potter on stage,” she said in October 2015. “I’m confident that when audiences see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child they will understand why we chose to tell this story in this way.”
So what could WB do? They could take the core story and make it a good moviegoing experience. I suggest this with hesitation because it’s too early to know if this is an option or not. We just don’t know much about the story right now. All we know is that it follows Harry and his son Albus Severus — the latter of whom is dealing with being in his father’s shadow.
We’ll have to wait until the summer, once we see and read the play, to know just how much they would have to do to make this a good movie.
Path 2: Film the stage play and release it in theaters, with WB involved very little or not at all
This seems like the more realistic option. The play could be professionally filmed live at the Palace Theatre, its home on London’s West End, with the cast, script, and sets intact.
The live aspect aside, it wouldn’t be as thrilling as a movie adaptation by Warner Brothers, but the size of the fandom and the demand to see this story would outweigh any negatives. Fans would just have to set their expectations accordingly. You’re going to the theater to see a play, not a movie.
Either way, ‘The Cursed Child’ won’t be the first
There is precedent for a play to be adapted into a movie. Wikipedia has an exhaustive list of plays-turned-movies, though the only ones you may recognize are those that are musicals (like Grease, Hairspray, Jersey Boys, Les Miserables, The Last Five Years, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show).
There is also precedent for a live event. Broadcasting stage plays happens quite frequently — there are seven plays scheduled to be broadcast live in U.S. movie theaters this year, including Hamlet.
All in the name of accessibility
By publishing the play’s script this July, J.K. Rowling has shown she is very interested in making the play accessible to fans around the world.
However, the glaring problem with reading the script is that you’re not seeing this play come to life. Reading a script is a very different experience from reading a book, so to get the full story you need to see what’s happening. See the body language, see the pacing, see the magic. And how can you combine this with accessibility? Cameras.
It’s for this reason that we think she is at least thinking about ways it can be brought to movie theaters. Personally speaking, I’d prefer to see a live broadcast from the Palace Theater. That way fans could gather to watch it together in their local movie theaters. Think of it like a midnight movie release for Deathly Hallows, Part 2, and with an similar levels of anticipation partly because it’s happening “live.”
‘The Cursed Child’ movie’s release date
If The Cursed Child were to be presented in movie theaters, then when would it happen? Its presence in cinemas would have a greater effect on stage play ticket sales than the book will, so we’re at least a year or two away from it coming to theaters — if it ever does at all.
If WB were to adapt it, chances are it would take even longer for it to hit theaters. I can’t imagine WB wanting to put their adaptation in theaters while still releasing their Fantastic Beasts movies between now and November 2020. (Then again… Star Wars is releasing spinoff movies in the years between Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. WB could be looking at Disney and Lucasfilm with franchise envy).
Again, this is all speculation. The only things I can say for sure is that WB is salivating at the thought of adapting “the eighth story,” and that J.K. Rowling has at least let the idea of a Cursed Child movie pass through her brilliant mind.