Thursday, October 11, 2007

What Warner Bros. Should Be Doing With the Harry Potter Franchise

I was talking to Jen a few weeks ago about the new Harry Potter film, Order of the Phoenix. One of her comments on the adaptation was that the filmmakers left out some really significant things this time, moreso than with The Goblet of Fire, which is fairly understandable considering both books are heavy enough to fell a grown man or perhaps maim something the size of a housepet. And really, it's not like anyone is surprised by this, but it did get me to thinking about an idea I had some time ago (circa Chamber of Secrets movie, perhaps?).

Knowing that there were some hefty volumes to come I figured the screenwriter, Steve Kloves, would be challenged to bring as much detail and attention to the script as he had with the the films based on much smaller books. One of the things I remember hearing after the first movie was, "they were exactly the same. You really don't have to read the book if you see the movie and vice versa". This was also a time where the certainty of the three main cast members going the distance (not to mention the fiolm series as a whole) was still up in the air and the idea of having to cast new Harry, Ron and Hermione's was something I, if not the folks behind the scenes, had considered.

My solution? Take the three movies and leave them as a trilogy. Trilogys work. People like things being in a nice, neat troika despite what they say otherwise. Sure, we want another Indy movie, but it throws the balance of the series off just a smidge, don't you think? The same goes for the Die Hard series. Personally, I loved the new film, but it's still the red-headed stepchild of the series.

But I digress.

Mini-series. Make it a four or six part mini-series on cable and it would not only accomodate the longer stories Rowling was writing in the books but it would possibly take some of the heat off of the young actors and make for a nice transition to a new cast. In my eyes, problem solved, not to mention big money made on DVD releases.

Obviously, none of that came to pass. The fourth movie proved that the franchise was still a solid money maker for Warners and their four film option would officially extend to include all seven in the series. Also, the three actors decided to dig their heels in and go the distance as well making this the longest film series (as one complete saga) in film history.

So, back to the present. I'm talking to Jen and she says things are left out of the movie that probably should be there. The kids cleaning Sirius Black's house after his death, for example. In the book, I'm told, this is when they find some important magical object (a horcrux?) which is supposed to play into the next book, The Half Blood Prince. Leaving this bit out creates a narrative hole that the screenwriter for the next film will have to overcome (is Kloves still writing these things? I can't be bothered to check), and this is not the only example to speak of.

What I think Warners could have done with the series is to do a longer version of the film incorporating these little tidbits and details, seeing as they have everything and everybody in one place as it is. Keeping an eye on a theatrical release, they cut the film as a two-and-a-half hour movie and let it loose in the theatres just as they always have done. While that hullabaloo is going on, they finish up their longer version and wait for the theatrical version to run its course. Then, on a cable network like HBO (which is owned by Warners, if I'm not mistaken) they release a mini-series version made from the longer cut of the film, partly to satisfy fans wanting a beefier story, and partly to bridge the gap between the theatrical film leaving theatres and the DVD release. Then, when you eventually get to the DVD release, you pull a Lord of the Rings style one-two punch. The regular edition hits shelves and rental outlets and everybody buys it. Then, either simultaneously or a short time apart, they release the extended version to much fanfare and Potter freak appreciation. In the time it takes all of this to happen, they prepare the next film and start the process all over again. If you consider the books release dates over the years, they could literally have had Potter goings-on throughout the whole year keeping the franchise buzzing and their coffers fat.

I think it reeks of absolute brilliance, but then I work in a hardware store and haven't even read the series, so who am I to talk.

Onwards and upwards!


No comments: