Final 'Harry Potter' book will be split into two movies
Murray Close / Warner Bros. Entertainment
"Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe: "I think it's the only way you can do it without cutting out a huge portion of the book."
The 'Deathly Hallows' films are scheduled to be released in November 2010 and May 2011.
By Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 13, 2008
For "Harry Potter" and Hollywood, eight is the magic number.
Bros. Pictures and the producers behind the $4.5-billion film franchise
featuring the beloved boy wizard will split the seventh and final novel
in the J.K. Rowling series into two films.
"Harry Potter and the
Deathly Hallows: Part I" will hit theaters in November 2010, followed
by "Part II" in May 2011, a decision that is being met around the world
with fans' cheers but also plenty of cynical smirks. The publishing
industry is learning to live without new "Potter" releases, but
Hollywood just pulled off a trick that will keep its profitable hero on
his broom into the next decade.Any twist in the "Potter" universe is
the stuff of global news bulletins. The books were a publishing
sensation. And to an entire generation, the film saga has become a
heartfelt touchstone on the level of "The Wizard of Oz" and as
culturally and commercially ubiquitous as the "Star Wars" series. For
all those reasons, everyone involved in the franchise is jumping
forward to say an eighth film would be to serve the story, not the
Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the franchise, said
it was the dense action of the final novel that made the decision, not
any executive or ledger.
"I think it's the only way you can do
it, without cutting out a huge portion of the book," Radcliffe said.
"There have been compartmentalized subplots in the other books that
have made them easier to cut -- although those cuts were still to the
horror of some fans -- but the seventh book doesn't really have any
subplots. It's one driving, pounding story from the word go."
same could be said about the relentless "Potter" franchise, which hit
screens for the first time in 2001. The five "Potter" films to date
have averaged $282 million in U.S. grosses, but the overall receipts go
well beyond that. The faces of the stars stare out from DVDs, video
games, tie-in books, toys, clothing, candy wrappers and a staggering
array of other items. By some estimates, the brand represents a
$20-billion enterprise, and that's without the planned "Potter"-themed
complex opening next year at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida.
the "Potter" franchise is a boon to the studio and to its parent, media
giant Time Warner, where recently named Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes
is reining in costs with moves such as the recent gutting of New Line
Cinema. Time Warner's stock price has stagnated since its merger with
America Online eight years ago.
Right now, Radcliffe and his
costars are filming the sixth installment in the franchise, "Harry
Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," at an old aircraft factory outside
London. "It's been brilliant," Radcliffe said of the production. "It's
also, I think, the funniest of the films so far."
now 18 and, by the final film, will have spent half of his life in the
role of the scarred orphan who finds friendship and danger within the
stone corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each
film (following the construct of the novels) has been framed by a
school year. Producer David Heyman, a key figure in the films from Day
One, was reluctant to depart from that and make the last book into two
"Unlike every other book, you cannot remove elements of
this book," Heyman said. "You can remove scenes of Ron playing
Quidditch from the fifth book, and you can remove Hermione and S.P.E.W.
[Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare] and those subplots . . .
but with the seventh, that can't be done."
Rowling, who signed
off on the idea of a two-part finale, has been a more frequent visitor
to the sixth movie's set than with previous installments. One big
reason is that she is no longer busy trying to finish the "next"
"Potter" book; she walked away from her signature character in July,
when the climactic "Deathly Hallows" hit stores and sold a record 11
million copies in its first 24 hours on shelves.
president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment,
will be in Las Vegas today to talk up the "Potter" plans at ShoWest, a
key annual conference of movie exhibitors. Horn said Wednesday that "it
would have been a disservice" to downsize "Deathly Hallows" into one
"This way, we have an extra hour and a half, at least, to
celebrate what this franchise has been and do justice to all the words
and ideas that Jo has put in the amazing story," Horn said. "This is
the end of the story too. We want to celebrate it. We want to give a
David Yates, director of the fifth and sixth films,
will return and make the final two films concurrently. Screenwriter
Steve Kloves also returns, and, by the completion of the franchise, he
will have written seven of the eight films.
They will be
adapting a seventh book with 759 pages packed with action and twists
and turns in the race toward the final conflict between Potter and the
dark lord who murdered his parents, the serpentine Lord Voldemort.
Reviewing last summer for The Times, Mary McNamara wrote: "What Rowling
has achieved in this book and the series can be described only as
astonishing. Just as her characters have matured, the language and tone
of the books have grown in sophistication and lyricism. But she has
never lost the sense of wonder that has propelled her into literary
After the dust settles, the book ends with an epilogue
that finds the main characters -- Harry, Hermione Granger and Ron
Weasley -- grown up, married and 19 years removed from Hogwarts. Horn
said that particular denouement has the filmmakers fretting about how
to keep the young familiar stars on the screen just before it goes dark.
Horn said, "is something we will need to deal with. People have watched
these kids grow up, and it's been very special to do so. That's
important to us."
Heyman said splitting "Deathly Hallows" is the
right narrative formula, but the next problem is figuring out the
division. As he put it: "The question will be, where do you break it?
And how do you make them one but two separate and distinct stories? Do
you break it with a moment of suspense or one of resolution?"
said that screenwriter Kloves has already latched on to an approach
that might work. Rowling could not be reached for comment, but the most
recent entry on her website journal declared that "Hallows" stands as her favorite among the novels -- and that saying goodbye to Harry is never easy.
was the ending I had planned for 17 years, and there was more
satisfaction than you can probably imagine in finally sharing it with
my readers," Rowling wrote. "As for mourning Harry -- and I doubt I
will be believed when I say this -- nobody can have felt the end as
deeply as I did."