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J.K. Rowling Has Complete Creative Control Over the ‘Harry Potter’ Spinoff

JK Rowling Harry Potter spinoff
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

While J.K. Rowling is one of the biggest selling (and richest) authors in the world, she has never written a movie screenplay. But, when you’re the creator of the billion dollar ‘Harry Potter’ franchise, even a first time writer can make some creative demands.

Rowling will write the screenplay for the forthcoming ‘Harry Potter’ spinoff ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ and her contract with Warner Bros. stipulates that her script cannot be rewritten, doctored or polished without her explicit permission.

It’s natural in Hollywood for big-budget movies to go through multiple drafts on its way to production. ‘World War Z’ had six credited writers for chrissake. But, wanting to make sure that her script won’t go through that similar rewrite process with untested (and unapproved) writers, the Hollywood Reporter says part of Rowling’s deal to allow Hollywood to make a ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movie is that she, and only she, can write the script.

It’s the kind of creative control afforded to only the most-respected talents working in Hollywood like Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. While Rowling might not have the cinematic experience that those writer-directors have, she has the clout of being, well, J.K. Rowling. Warner Bros. very much wanted to stay in the ‘Harry Potter’ business and they couldn’t do that without Rowling (while they own the movie rights to the ‘Harry Potter’ characters, they didn’t own the rights to ‘Fantastic Beasts’ lead character Newt Scamander).

It’s unclear whether Rowling will write any future ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films should the property turn into a movie franchise, but her creative approval extends to any additional films.

Not all successful book authors have transitioned well to successful movie writers (see Stephen King’s ‘Sleepwalkers’), Rowling certainly knows her way around the ‘Harry Potter’ universe more than anyone else and certainly deserves the right to write the film as she sees fit. Whether that translates into big money at the box office remains to be seen.

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