Rowling gears up for new films
HARRY Potter author J.K. Rowling is working on three new wizard-based movies to be released starting in 2016, studio giant Warner Bros announced on Wednesday.
The first, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, will be directed by David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter movies, and will reunite the same film-making team.
It is described as "set in an extension of (Rowling's) familiar wizarding world, featuring magical creatures and characters inspired by Harry Potter's Hogwarts textbook and its fictitious author".
A second movie is set for release in 2018 and a third in 2020, the studio said. The first movie was announced last month.
Rowling, who has sold more than 450 million copies of the Harry Potter books, announced last month that Warner Bros had approached her about doing Fantastic Beasts.
"I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of Fantastic Beasts, realised by another writer was difficult," she said, explaining her decision to write the screenplay.
"Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it."
Warner Bros did not announce who will direct or star in any of the three scheduled films.
Rowling's Harry Potter books - which were published from 1997 to 2007, and tell the story of the young wizard and his friends at the Hogwarts school of magic - spawned a string of hit films and the Pottermore website.
The movies made global celebrities of their actors, principally Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger and Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley.
Warner Bros, Hollywood's biggest studio, also plans to release at least 10 superhero films from its DC Comics library over the next six years, eyeing the riches reaped by Walt Disney's Marvel unit.
The studio is under pressure, like its parent Time Warner, to boost revenue and profit.
Under the six-year plan, Warner Bros is "doubling down" on multi-film franchises and superhero movies, Hollywood's biggest moneymakers, studio chief Kevin Tsujihara said at Time Warner's investor meeting.
A slate of 22 to 24 films a year will include three Lego movies, an attempt to build on this year's hit based on the toy building blocks, and a greater focus on consumer products, where Disney is also a leader.
"Disney's success with Marvel shows us what's possible," Mr Tsujihara, chief executive of Warner Bros, said at the meeting.
Time Warner's film unit, a perennial box office leader, ranks third in domestic sales this year behind 21st Century Fox and Disney, after holding the No. 1 or No. 2 positions annually since 2007, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.
Two films from Disney's Marvel unit, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier rank among the most successful films this year, with US$1.4 billion (S$1.8 billion) in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.
Time Warner held its investor day to outline its plans to accelerate revenue and profit growth as an independent company, after rejecting a US$75 billion takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch's Fox.