Author JK Rowling is to make her screenwriting debut in a new Harry Potter-themed film series, Warner Bros has announced.
The first film of the series will be titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Warner Bros said the film series was part of an “expanded creative partnership” with the best-selling author.
The eight Harry Potter films are the largest-grossing film franchise in history.
The new film will feature Newt Scamander, the fictional author of the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, owned by Harry Potter at Hogwarts school.
Warner Bros has given no indication as to when the film could go into production.
“It all started when Warner Bros came to me with the suggestion of turning Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them into a film,” said JK Rowling.
“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.
“Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. As hard-core Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood.”
JK Rowling is to make her screenwriting debut in a new Harry Potter-themed film series
JK Rowling went on: “As I considered Warners’ proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros.
“Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for 17 years, 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.
“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.”
She added: “I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.”
Warner Bros also announced that it would serve as the worldwide TV distributor (excluding the UK) for the upcoming BBC TV adaptation of JK Rowling’s recent adult novel The Casual Vacancy. It is expected to air in 2014.
More than 450 million copies of JK Rowling’s seven Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide.
She also wrote two small volumes, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages – both named after Harry Potter’s schoolbooks within the novels. They were published in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief.
Another Harry Potter spin-off book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, followed in December 2008.
The Harry Potter novels, about a boy wizard who survives the attack that kills his parents, became a worldwide phenomenon and were turned into eight blockbuster Warner Bros films starring Daniel Radcliffe.
The films have grossed more than $7.7 billion to date worldwide at the box office, making Harry Potter the largest-grossing film franchise in history.
JK Rowling said her next novel would be for adults and it seems she has succeeded.
Days before its official launch, excerpts from JK Rowling’s first book in the post-Harry Potter era have begun to emerge online – and it is clear that it is for grown-up eyes only.
While the full text of The Casual Vacancy is a closely guarded secret, an American journalist who has read it in the offices of publishers Little, Brown has revealed some of the book’s more risqué passages.
Far from her usual wizard descriptions of fantastical battles between good and evil, JK Rowling’s new tale is said to be one of class warfare, prostitution, heroin addiction and teen sexuality.
A female character is introduced with the description that the “leathery skin of her upper cleavage radiated little cracks that no longer vanished when decompressed”.
At another point in the book, the reader meets a “lustful boy” who sits on a school bus “with an ache in his heart and in his b****”.
And the author’s usual fans may also be shocked – if not a little perplexed – by the mention of one girl’s “miraculously unguarded v*****”.
Although some fans may be upset by the direction she has taken, JK Rowling – who has sold 450 million Harry Potter books worldwide, amassing a personal fortune of £560 million ($880 million) – insists she should be free to write about whatever she wants.
“There is no part of me that feels I represented myself as your children’s babysitter or their teacher,” she said.
“I was always, I think, completely honest.
“I’m a writer, and I will write what I want to write.”
The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling’s first adult book, is due to be published on Thursday
JK Rowling, who has three children, also revealed that she was ready for a change in genre after years of writing magical tales.
“I had a lot of real-world material in me, believe you me,” she told the New Yorker magazine.
“The thing about fantasy – there are certain things you just don’t do. You don’t have sex near unicorns. It’s an ironclad rule. It’s tacky.”
However, JK Rowling, 47, insisted her decision to write for adults was “not that I just wanted to write about… sex”.
“I think there is a through-line,” she added.
“Mortality, morality, [they are] the two things I obsess about.”
JK Rowling said she drew on her own upbringing near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire for the novel, in which the middle-class can barely hide their loathing for the inhabitants of a neighboring sink estate.
But locals in her old home village say the portrayal of snobby residents is as much “fantasy” as Harry Potter is.
Residents in Tutshill, a small community on the English side of Chepstow, where JK Rowling used to live, said the author’s childhood could have colored her memory of village life.
JK Rowling has previously said her childhood was unhappy and she couldn’t wait to leave Tutshill.
Her mum suffered from multiple sclerosis and she had a difficult relationship with her father.
Victoria Carter, 50, told the Daily Telegraph: “I think she has a bit of a chip on her shoulder because she didn’t have a very good time in her teenage years.
“Tutshill is neither snobby nor pretentious. If it were, we wouldn’t have lived here for 22 years.”
Her husband, William, 51, a business analyst, added: “She is a fantasy writer, after all. This sounds like another of her fantasies.”
The Casual Vacancy – which is due to be published on Thursday – is already a record breaker, with the novel receiving the largest number of in-store pre-order sales this year, according to Waterstones.
It is also said to have reached well over a million online pre-orders.