Finding a Silver Lining in the Release of the “Fantastic Beasts” Screenplay Book
The Internet is brewing today after Pottermore released the news of a Fantastic Beasts screenplay hitting shelves in book form. Fans are mostly split into two camps on the subject. Some find this latest release as an exploitation of the franchise, producing useless items just for monetary profit. Others are excited to get a glimpse behind the writing process of the new film series. Then there are those of us who are positioned between these two groups. I happen to be one of those floaters. While I have strong feelings about both the pros and cons of this screenplay release, I would rather concentrate on the silver linings that come with a tangible copy of J.K. Rowling’s first screenplay.
Why publish a script?
The first thing on many people’s minds seems to be the question of why a film would need to release its script in book form? With the Cursed Child script publication, there is the obvious reason doing it for the fans who do not have the means to travel to London and experience the play in person. With a nationally released film, however, what is the purpose? This is J.K. Rowling’s own writing. The Cursed Child script was not written by JKR herself. While there will no doubt be false reporting of this as a “new Harry Potter book,” it is actually the closest thing we’ve had since the series ended.
Isn’t film a visual medium?
As a broadcasting student who crosses over into cinema studies regularly, this was one of the first things that rubbed me the wrong way about the script publication. Films become larger than their scripts. They break out of the page and become something magical and immersive. Why would you want to expose the bare bones of something and ruin that visual experience? Right on the tail of these thoughts, however, was my intense excitement to get my hands on a copy of a script (especially one written by such a great novelist) and have a tangible example of how its done. Scriptwriting is no easy feat, and I’m always searching for examples of how to improve my skills. Having this book as a companion to the film could be an excellent chance to explore how a film goes from mere words to a magical adventure on the big screen. If the editors take full advantage of this opportunity and supply annotations in the script with behind-the-scenes information, this could really be something extremely special.
Isn’t it just a way to make more money?
What better way to market a film based in a world from a beloved book series than to plant reminders on the shelves of book stores? It seems silly to think there are actually people in the world who don’t know about the Fantastic Beasts film, but there are. I constantly have people coming up to me who know I love Harry Potter, and they want to ask what I think of the “new” information that there’s another movie coming out. There are people who are disconnected from the Internet hype of Fantastic Beasts who may be thrilled to see something new from J.K. Rowling and the magical world appear on the shelves of their local book store. This could add to the success of the film, so what’s the problem?
While it is obviously a way to market and make money more than anything else, you have to admire the efforts behind this release. Is it really that bad for Scholastic to release writing by one of its best authors that they know people will buy? Is it really a terrible thing for the Harry Potter franchise to highlight the fact that the Fantastic Beasts film has been penned by J.K. Rowling and nurtured under her control?
What makes me optimistic and positive about this news rather than despising the fact that Harry Potter fans can be sold almost anything is the underlying fact that this entire adventure started with a book. This may just be me being nostalgic, but since the books are long over, it seems fitting that this next chapter of the wizarding universe should also have a place of honor on shelves next to the novels that started it all. J.K. Rowling’s magical words have given life to the very world that a lot of us live in. Why not celebrate those words which have also given life to Newt’s cinematic world?