Update: Our prayers have been answered! The script’s play will be published in a book on July 31, 2016. While that’s exciting news, we’re still hoping the play will be shared in other ways in the future.
Dear J.K. Rowling,
The news that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a sequel to Deathly Hallows following Harry and his son Albus Severus is an exciting prospect. You’ve already done an amazing job writing arcs for Harry and his mentors (like Sirius, Hagrid, Dumbledore), so we’re sure Albus Severus’s arc will capture the spirit of those original stories. And as the marketing material itself promotes, this is “the eighth story.” That’s honestly mind-blowing. After all this time… an eighth story!
However, there’s one glaring issue that needs to be addressed: Unlike the seven stories before it, The Cursed Child is not going to be available to everyone at the outset, and that is not in the spirit of Harry Potter.
The Harry Potter books and films have always been accessible to everyone, no matter your geographic location or economic status. If you want to read Harry Potter you can go to a bookstore and purchase it. Can’t afford it? You can go to the library and borrow a copy.
The movies are similarly accessible. While they were in theaters you could access them by taking a short drive. Not able to get to the theater? Wait a few months and it’ll be out on VHS/DVD/Blu-ray.
This accessibility has also stretched to other areas of the franchise like Pottermore. We older fans have had to deal with kid-friendly features on your website like randomly-generated, slightly-incoherent user names (like mine, “CatSeeker”) just so parents don’t have to worry about their kid’s privacy when they want to read Rita Skeeter’s report on the Quidditch World Cup. Pottermore frequently reminded us they had to be kid-friendly to be fair to everyone.
The point is, Harry’s story has always been available to all.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the polar opposite, and that’s not okay when this is being promoted as “an eighth story,” a continuation of the seven books that preceded the play. At best, it costs the price of two new Harry Potter books to see The Cursed Child, and that’s if you happen to live within walking distance of the theater. If you can get to London by train, it may cost the price of three or four new Harry Potter books.
That’s feasible for those in the U.K., who make up 0.89% of the world’s population. But what are the 99.11% of us in the rest of the world to do?
For an American, making a trip to England to see The Cursed Child is a costly prospect. A roundtrip flight from Los Angeles runs around $1,000, then there’s the cost of hotel, food, transportation, a couple souvenirs — oh, and the cost of The Cursed Child.
Tickets for the play are actually pretty affordable. I see you’ve priced them for as low as £30 to see both shows, which equals $46. That’s not bad at all, and we’re sure you had accessibility in mind while making tickets affordably-priced. We just hope the seats aren’t too bad.
Unfortunately, traveling to London for anyone outside of the U.K. is not affordable. At all. So, I have two solutions to propose to you, and then I have an important caveat.
1) Air a live broadcast of The Cursed Child in movie theaters around the globe. This idea is not unprecedented — whenever I visit a movie theater I see trailers for upcoming live stage performances I can watch from the comfort of my local cineplex. For example, there’s a live broadcast of a show called Tannhäuser coming up on October 31.
This would be a great way to electrify the Harry Potter fandom ahead of Fantastic Beasts, by the way. Get us all into movie theaters again to experience an entirely new Harry Potter story before we dive into Newt’s very different part of The Wizarding World! I’m sure your friends at Warner Bros. would be happy to help make this happen as well.
2) Release this story as a book. Yes, I know you said this story “only exists because the right group of people came together with a brilliant idea about how to present Harry Potter on stage,” so please release the play’s script as a book. Enhance it by adding some pictures from the play. This option is arguably better than the first idea because it won’t detract from people seeing the play in person if they can afford it.
This idea is also not unprecedented. Plays are frequently turned into books (long after they hit the stage, admittedly). You’ve even published your excellent Harvard commencement speech as a book.
The caveat and conclusion
As you know, we Harry Potter fans are a thirsty bunch, so if you want to move forward with one of these two ideas, then it needs to happen sooner rather than later. Would you prefer we consume the story through an official outlet or through someone’s messy recap posted to Tumblr?
“But just wait a couple years and I’ll get you the book,” you might be saying. I’m sorry, but we can’t wait. Harry’s story and the fandom have always been exceptional, so The Cursed Child — the “eighth story” — should be no different. We’re the people who would count down to 12:01 a.m. so we could consume the next Harry Potter book in a marathon reading session. We can’t wait one, two, or three years for the eighth story to be released to the world while it’s being performed nightly in a place we can’t go to because it’s too far from home.
That’s not how we work as fans. That’s not in our blood. We won’t be able to resist looking for answers, and consuming the story in a way you didn’t intend.
Andy (and anyone who shares this on social media)