Good news for fans of Harry Potter and movies that make a gazillion dollars: J.K. Rowling has signed a deal with Warner Bros. to write a screenplay for her 2001 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which will serve as the first film in a new Hogwartsian franchise.
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world,” Rowling said in a statement announcing the deal.
While the book that Rowling will adapt for the screen is not technically part of the original Harry Potter series, it serves as a fictional textbook for the magical creatures found in the world that the boy wizard and his friends inhabited. Its fictitious author, Newt Scamander, will serve as the protagonist of the new franchise. "The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, 70 years before Harry’s gets underway," explained Rowling.
As the Los Angeles Times notes, the deal will include much more than just a new film franchise for Rowling. Warner Bros. also plans to develop a video game and other consumer products based on the films, and has also agreed to distribute The Casual Vacancy, a TV adaptation of Rowling's adult novel.
This post has been updated.