Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the End of the Franchise

Well, the biggest meal ticket Scholastic ever had is now officially over. Oh, there'll be paperback editions for years to come, and tie-in editions for the final two movies. But no longer can Scholastic count on J.K. Rowling to deliver another behemoth.

Rowling, of course, has enough fuck-you money to never write another word for the rest of her life. She's been saying she'd like to write something else; she hasn't really said "Never again" to more Harry or Hogwarts adventures. But if she writes something else, I think she'll find it won't be as warmly received — or as hysterically awaited — as her Harry Potter books. That kind of lightning only strikes once.

The question is, what'll be the next literary sensation among kids? A Series of Unfortunate Events might rank a distant second — after all, hardly anyone's clamoring for more movie adaptations of Lemony Snicket's franchise — but that's over, too. Whatever it is, it'll come completely out of left field and it won't be anything like Harry Potter.

I also wonder how the end of the print version of Harry Potter will affect the movies' box-office take. When the books were still going, there was suspense; even if the audience had read the particular book that the movie was based on, the ultimate fate of Harry and his friends was still undecided. Now everyone knows how it all ends. So maybe the movie versions of Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows will echo a little hollowly, anti-climactically. The kids will still want to see them, of course, if only to see the remainder of Rowling's story visualized. But it seems like all the hubbub over this last book was a farewell party. Harry Potter has hit its peak now, I think. The story has come to an end, and there's really no going back.

And what do I think? Having seen only one of the movies and having read exactly none of the books, I don't care all that much.