Leaky just announced days ago that Pottermore and Warner Bros. were forming a new joint venture in the form of a new website and experiences that would combine material from the books and movies. Since Pottermore is associated with the books, and Warner Bros. is the rights holder for the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movie franchises, legal issues have made it complicated for Pottermore to incorporate film content, a growing impediment as the Fantastic Beasts series becomes integrated with the Potter canon. From the FAQ: “Wizarding World is the magical universe that encompasses Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and an expanding range of characters, stories, experiences and products derived from them, as well as new projects inspired by this magical universe.” You can read more about the joint venture here.
The new site, Wizarding World, was rumoured to be going live as soon as May 15, but we didn’t have anything definitive, and we are careful not to post anything speculative unless we clearly delineate it as such. We know you trust us to be your number one reliable source for Potter news! Well, now we can say it: It’s live! (Or in a Dr. Frankenstein voice, “It’s alive!”)
The homepage asks you to “Register Now” before you can go any deeper into the magical world.
You’ll have to enter your date of birth, and your email addy. If it recognises your email from your Pottermore account, it will import your Pottermore information, but you will have to choose a new password. It will then ask you for your birth date again (in case the ageing potion you took the first time has worn off), and your name, and you’ll have to fill in the verification code sent to your email. Then you’re in!
The next screen shows your house. Mine, for example, is Gryffindor:
The next screen down lets you create a list of “favourites”. You may choose three to display and share on social media using hashtag #MyWizardingWorld from Characters, Spells & Potions, Objects & Food, Places & Transport, Beasts & Beings, and, last but certainly not least, Quidditch Teams.
The resulting badge for you to display on social media makes no sense because it’s a list of favourites that starts with “I am”. Someone did not think that through and, one hopes, they will spot the incongruity and change it.
The following screen reminds you of your Patronus. As much as I love cats (there’s a real tortoiseshell one snoring on my lap as I write this), I can’t say I’m thrilled to share a Patronus with Dolores Umbridge. I assure you that’s all we have in common. Well, I do like order, but I digress…
That’s it so far! Go get you Wizarding World Passport and start picking favourites. We’ll post about new content as it becomes available.
Personally, I find the graphics too modern; I preferred the more gothic, old-fashioned look of the original Pottermore. What do you think of Wizarding World Digital? Tell us via comments and tweets.
Fans are now aware of the newly formed joint venture between Pottermore and Warner Bros., aiming to ‘widen and deepen’ the scope of what Pottermore can do to improve digital experiences for Wizarding World fans, which includes transitioning over to a new platform — WizardingWorld.com. We’re also no stranger to the recent uproar following the apparent ‘leak’ of a paid subscriber’s concept!
We recently reported on the announcement of the new venture, and following soon after came MuggleNet’s scoop on Wizarding World Gold, a subscriber’s concept they claimed to give ‘premium access to the best and brightest parts of the wizarding world’. Their scoop came from an anonymous source and claimed that various elements of the new concept, would be available only to paid subscribers. This included apparent leaked marketing materials for the Gold tier service promoting access to Cursed Child priority booking, members-only events and experiences, exclusive merchandise and sales, video and audio material and an exclusive welcome kit. MuggleNet posed the question ‘If fans and followers already feel marginalized by the content the franchise is putting out, how is marginalizing them further going to help?’.
It’s a fair question — dividing fans as ‘Gold’ class or not is a concerning idea. Here at Leaky, we pride ourselves on getting to the heart of questions that concern fans of J.K. Rowling’s world. Yesterday we were able to spoke directly and exclusively to the team behind Wizarding World Digital, and took the opportunity to get more information on how the new concepts and experiences being developed will serve fans, and answer some of our many questions about the proposed ‘paid subscriber’ concept.
In an exclusive statement, a Wizarding World spokesperson told us:
‘Since we launched Pottermore in 2012, the digital landscape has evolved. We want to make it easier for fans to experience and travel through the Wizarding World. To this end, Wizarding World Digital are working on a broad range of new digital experiences all of which are at different stages of research and development. As announced last week, the new venture will make our content and experiences accessible to the broadest possible audience of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts fans.
We are working hard creating a range of products that we hope will surprise and delight fans. Whilst one of these explores a premium concept, the vast majority of the experiences in development are free. We are excited about the next phase of our digital journey and will officially release more information soon.’
So what does this mean for fans, exactly?
1) Wizarding World Digital’s Background
In our talk, we discussed the reasons behind setting up this venture, and how Wizarding World Digital will benefit fans rather than sidelining them. We were assured during discussions with our spokesperson from Wizarding World Digital that the collaboration was set up to offer fans ‘bigger and better’ experiences, and they were adamant that this new venture would remain ‘as true to the values of the franchise as possible’.
Rather than being a ‘money making experience’, we were told that this new digital venture is simply the next logical step in Pottermore’s journey in a transforming digital landscape, as ‘no digital experience stands still’. Pottermore clearly does not offer everything it did in 2012, and this new venture, we were told, is their way of being able to bring everything together and deliver experiences that fans have suggested they have wanted over the years.
The existence of and Pottermore / Warner Bros.’s respective relationships with fan sites and the broader fan community was also discussed, and we were assured that these relationships will not change, and are still important to the overall fan landscape in their eyes.
2) Will a Portion of Fans Be Sidelined By The Introduction of a Paid Concept?
As you’ll notice in the statement, the ‘premium concept’ is still being explored, and is by no means the centrepiece of Wizarding World Digital’s new digital experiences, but sounds more like a proposed element of the concept itself. Many of the experiences are still in research and development, and much of the leaked content, we assume this means, isn’t to be taken as 100% accurate as so little has been tested at this early stage.
The ‘vast majority’ of the content in these experiences will be free for all, according to our exclusive statement, and whilst we obviously don’t know the ins-and-outs of what’s being offered to fans, it could be that not all the materials previously suggested to be under the paid tier will be blocked from the wider fan community. As an example, perhaps we’ll get a podcast, but extra material will be accessible to subscribers?
May 15th was thrown around as the proposed launch date of the new website (a result of confusion caused by Pottermore’s data collection email moving subscribers over to the new service), however, if this is the case, the launch will not be a full launch. We were told that the website could be months in the making. We’re not sure exactly what that means, but think back to the original Pottermore, and waiting for each Potter book to release in turn as a new digital experience. It’s possible that something along these lines will be at the heart of Wizarding World Digital, bringing together every aspect of J.K. Rowling’s ever-growing world in one place.
3) Innovations in the Digital Landscape: Where Is J.K. Rowling in all this?
Neil Blair said in an initial statement to The Bookseller that the new venture between Pottermore and film rights-holders Warner Bros. means that now ‘the only limits will be our imaginations and what technology is available’ when it comes to crafting digital experiences for fans. The excitement of Pottermore originally was the promise of new J.K. Rowling content, and one main question fans seem to have is how involved J.K. Rowling is at this point. The new venture is run by a collaboration between Warner Bros. and Pottermore, so in a sense this is no longer her venture, but run by a collaboration between Warner Bros and Pottermore.
We were assured that the content written for Pottermore by J.K. Rowling (including the Sorting and Patronus quizzes, etc) will all remain free to fans. The aim, we were told, is not to take away from fans — ‘if anything we’re trying to put everything in one place to give bigger and better experiences’, our spokesperson told me.
What are your opinions on the new website? We’d love to hear!
Since 2012, Pottermore has been the digital heart of the wizarding world. Keeping fans updated with the latest news in J.K. Rowling’s series, we’ve been visiting the site as a home away from Hogwarts to take quizzes and learn new info about on our favorite fantasy series. But it seems the digital hub for Harry Potter admirers is conjuring a new look and purpose starting on or around May 15th, 2019.
In a recent newsletter sent by Pottermore to its users, the site announced that all of our favorite quizzes, articles and features will be moved to WizardingWorld.com.
From the official release:
Wizarding World Digital – a new joint venture between Pottermore and Warner Bros. – will be bringing out new digital experiences in the coming months. Wizarding World Digital will be responsible for managing WizardingWorld.com and Pottermore.com, including their registered user databases (aka – including you). The switchover is planned on or around 15 May 2019.
With millions of fans registered to Pottermore and were sorted into one of the Hogwarts houses, discovered their patronus, and let the wand choose them, the beloved activities will be heading to WizardingWorld.com with promising additional features.
This isn’t the first transformation Pottermore has made. In 2012, the site initially acted as an interactive experience for fans to explore J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series chapter by chapter to win house points, cast spells, and build their witch or wizard identity. Later in 2015, Pottermore was revamped to remove the interactive elements and become a digital encyclopedia / news site.
Pottermore and Warner Bros’s recent announcement comes off the heels of a major logo change for J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world in 2018, one that can be found on new products for Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, as well as the opening title credits for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
A different magic comes our way. We’ll find out in all of the latest details soon. Stay tuned!
Ok, so the real name is Wizarding World Digital, not Warnermore or Blast-Ended Skrewt. It sounds a wee bit ironic given that Muggle technology doesn’t work at Hogwarts, according to Hermione, who read about it in Hogwarts: A History because of course she did. But this is different; it’s about intellectual property rights rather than “ecklectricity”, as Arthur Weasley would say.
Pottermore is connected to the publishers of the books. The site was launched in 2012 to provide digital content related to the books, eBooks, and digital audio books but it didn’t hold the rights to include movie-related content, which fell under Warner Bros.’ purview.
Now the wizarding world is expanding and deepening via the Fantastic Beasts franchise, which is also owned by Warner Bros. Pottermore was legally limited in how it could incorporate these new additions to the canon. Hence, Wizarding World Digital, a joint venture that enables both book and movie-related content owned by each copyright holder to mingle together on one site like guests at Slughorn’s Christmas party, although with tastier hor d’oeuvres.
Pottermore Publishing will continue to publish the eBooks and digital audiobooks, and to sell them online, although most Pottermore content will be moved to the new site. In anticipation of the merger, Pottermore laid off some of its staff in March 2018. A new management team will decide where to take the joint venture from here.
Neil Blair, J.K. Rowling’s agent and the chair of Pottermore, told The Bookseller, “This venture will widen and deepen what we have been able to do on Pottermore so far. There’s no reason now why we won’t be able to do something because there’s a rights issue. The only limits will be our imaginations and what technology is available.”
What will happen to Pottermore when much of its content moves to the new Wizarding World Digital site? We don’t know, but we hope the Sorting Hat Quiz remains!
**Update: MuggleNet have received an anonymous unconfirmed tip suggesting that a ‘Gold Tier’ subscriber option could be available, turning fans into subscribers for ‘exclusive’ Wizarding World content**
Gringotts Wizarding Bank opens at Warner Bros Studio Tour London on April 6th, and none other than the Weasley twins, James and Oliver Phelps, and Filius Flitwick / Griphook the goblin himself, Warwick Davis, gave us our first look at the set – and it doesn’t disappoint!
Pottermore were there for the first look at the set, and interviewed Warwick Davis, as well as creature effects artist Sarita Allison, who discussed the scope of creating goblins with special effects make-up, and shared that her work on the goblins seen in the Potter films wouldn’t have been possible without the immense patience of the actors:
‘We get a lot of praise for our amazing goblin work but we couldn’t do it without actors like Warwick – it’s very precise work and they do sit there for hours.’
Davis also discussed his first experience on set with Daniel Radcliffe – it takes so long to be transformed into a goblin that he was ‘wiped out’ by the time it came to shooting the scene!:
“I remember for the first film when I was wearing this make-up, getting up at 4am, have the make-up applied, be ready for 8, we’d then do some filming, usually with Daniel [Radcliffe] who was a very young boy at that point, but then because they needed to film him and get him into school and things… they’d turn around and do my shots right at the end of the day. Now, by then I was wiped out, I couldn’t remember my lines, I didn’t know what was going on at that point!”
They assure that some top secrets will be revealed in the 16,500 square foot Gringotts set, which uses 210,000 coins, 38,000 pieces of rubberised treasure for the Lestrange vault and 7,014 Hufflepuff Cups!
Sky also interviewed Davis, who discussed his love of the Potter movies:
“I feel I’m very lucky to have managed to be part of these two huge film series. Not a day goes by where I don’t talk about them some way or another.”
There are downsides to being transformed into a goblin, though – Warwick said that nobody spoke to him whilst he was in costume!
“When I’m filming, I don’t go around the whole day as Griphook, I’m Warwick in between scenes.
“But it’s funny, when you’re in make-up like this, people don’t talk to you. You’re a bit isolated on set.
“The studio will be full of cast and crew, but I’ll be sat down on my chair and no one will talk to me because I look miserable, even though I’m not inside.”
Alongside the opening of Gringotts, Warner Bros Studio Tour will also reveal an all-new 17,000 sqft lobby and café on April 6th, seating up to 500 people to enjoy food and drink inspired by the Wizarding World! Entrance to Gringotts will be included in general admission – get your hands on tickets at the official Warner Bros Studio Tour website.
Since Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald released, we’ve been theorising, re-watching, preordering and trying to soak up as much bonus material on the film as possible. Now, thanks to Pottermore Publishing and Audible, fans can delve into a complete audio documentary narrated by Dan Fogler, letting us go behind the scenes of the second film. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – Makers, Mysteries and Magic is truly an audio adventure, and we were lucky enough to speak to the documentary’s producer, Hana Walker-Brown, about creating an all-new experience for Wizarding World fans.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – Makers, Mysteries and Magic, created by Pottermore in collaboration with Audible, gives an in-depth look at the sets, characters and filming process behind Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. An ‘all-access’ audiobook project like this has never been done before. It draws from extensive interview footage with the cast, crew and filmmakers who shaped Fantastic Beasts: TheCrimes of Grindelwald. By exploring the skill, artistry and feats of moviemaking that go into making a blockbuster series like Fantastic Beasts, the audio documentary also aims to inspire future moviemakers. With no fear of major spoilers, it’s a great listen for anybody interested in moviemaking, and fans of the Wizarding World.
We asked Hana more about constructing the documentary, and how Pottermore Publishing came up with the idea for an audio-documentary:
Q: We’ve really enjoyed getting to know more about Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – Makers, Mysteries and Magic, what a great audio documentary idea! How did you and Pottermore Publishing come up with it?
A: As work on the new film began, Pottermore Publishing came to Audible with an idea to take fans behind the scenes. We knew we wanted it to be totally unique, an original that would go beyond a straight-forward “this is how this is made, this is how that is done,” and instead be an immersive audio journey that would dig deeper into the character’s stories and the magic of film-making.
Within months of that first meeting I was on set, microphone in hand, conducting interviews!
The creative process making this documentary was quite organic after that, I collected interviews, had tours of the set, learnt about what happened where and who did what. The more people I spoke to, the clearer the shape and structure of the documentary became – you hear so many fascinating anecdotes and stories that you instantly get a sense of what to include in the finished piece. Pottermore were instrumental in this process too.
The characters all have these incredibly rich backstories, and the skills and expertise of the people working on this film is unrivalled – set designers, costume fitters, scaffolders and everyone in between – they’re the people that make the magic happen and so we knew we really wanted to celebrate that.
Q: What was the process like of selecting what to include from the 100 hours of footage in this audio-documentary?
A: The process was intense! I recorded so much from so many people that similar themes started to emerge across all of them as the interviews were recorded. We turned those themes into chapters and from there we knew what framework we were working towards. We wanted as many voices in there as possible. As a Producer it’s always tough to choose what to cut but with our colleagues at Pottermore we focused on finding those moments that surprised us, taught us something or made us laugh out loud.
In the first few chapters, Dan Fogler introduces us to the filmmaking home of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, Leavesden Studios. The plot features 14 sound stages, plots of land, offices, and the Warner Bros Studio Tour, of course! Dan recaps the first film, and reintroduces us to various characters, discussing all manner of behind-the scenes details in the meantime: Eddie’s experience getting to ride a Kelpie through visual effects, how the art department conceptualised Newt’s basement (including interviews with supervising art director Martin Foley and production designer Stuart Craig), developing Newt and Tina’s relationship, the use of puppets in the filming process and improvisation (with puppeteer Robin Guiver), hair and make-up (with make-up and hair designer Fae Hammond), costumes (with costume designer Colleen Atwood), Jude Law ‘finding’ young Dumbledore and designing his costume with Colleen, wand design with Molly Soul and props with head prop-maker Pierre Bohanna.
The latter chapters delve into the quartet’s changing dynamic, James Newton Howard’s experience composing the soundtrack for the first and second film, David Heyman and David Yates on the differences between Fantastic beasts and Harry Potter, Credence’s journey, family dynamics and Leta as a new presence in the movie, Hogwarts, stunts (and how brooms have changed since Potter), and constructing Grindelwald as a villain.
We sought Hana’s opinions on the best stories shared throughout the series, and which revelations blew her mind:
Q: As Producer, what behind-the-scenes stories did you enjoy most? What were totally unexpected?
A: Being on a living, breathing, always-changing film set of this scale was just an incredible experience and it was a real privilege to be allowed on set. I really loved being in the props workshop and also getting to spend time with people like concept artist Molly Sole in her room full of sketches, talking about how she comes up with ideas for things like Grindelwald’s vial and all the wands. The best part of my job is hearing everyone’s stories and so those moments where we could just sit and talk to people and find out who they were and how they get there were a real highlight.
Something unexpected… I was totally blown away by how much of the sets and props of this movie are actually made by human hands! The amount of detail that goes into every single element is astounding, and walking around the set of 1927 Paris was very surreal and very special.
It’s truly an all-access look at the movie, with no stone left unturned, and plenty of extra information for die-hard fans like us! We especially loved the revelation that Tina’s hairstyle changed because she’s investing in herself more in Crimes of Grindelwald. Paying homage to the Goldsteins’ sisterly bond, Fae Hammond actually imagined that Queenie would have cut Tina’s hair before she eventually visited a salon for the first time, leading to her polished bob in Crimes.
Another nice touch is a feature in Chapter 8, A Return to Hogwarts, on how various interns got to work on the Fantastic Beasts films, and various moments discussing the careers of various people involved in this series – many of whom have been with J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World all the way from the first Potter, and will likely stick with Fantastic Beasts to the very end! For those aspiring to work in film, it’s a great resource, and nothing could be more inspiring than hearing the journeys of people being whisked away by their work into such a huge production.
Another highlight is Dan’s David Attenborough impression. Throughout the documentary (mainly Chapter 2: Newt Scamander, and Chapter 4: Fantastic Beasts) Dan takes descriptions of the beasts featured in Crimes of Grindelwald, and reads them in the voice of one of the world’s most revered animal kingdom experts, complete with sound effects from the wizarding-world-wild. Truly, it’s comedy gold. Dan’s personality and experience with podcasting shines throughout the documentary. He’s interactive and does a wonderful job of immersing us in the world of Fantastic Beasts – another hilariously bizarre highlight is Dan whispering “Let’s listen to Jude’s beard… It’s like a nice, warm, inviting fire, right?” over the sound of a fire crackling.
Hana explained the excellent choice to bring Dan on board:
Q: Dan Fogler brings so much character to the audio documentary – why did you choose him to narrate it?
A: Dan and his character Jacob are almost one and the same person! He is just brilliant – he has such a great tone to his voice, his comic timing and delivery is flawless and he adds so much fun to this audio documentary. He plays a No-Maj in the film, so he establishes a link with both the fictional world of the film and the real-world of film-making. We wanted the listeners to be totally immersed and Dan really tapped into that, he’s very genuine and very warm which is really important in audio – you want to feel like that narrator could be your mate telling you a story – and I think he does that so well. It just had to be Dan.
Sound effects and music also add a huge amount to the series, making the experience that much more realistic, and making it easier to let go of the need for visual material, which is pretty useful if you’re an audiobook amateur.
Overall, we’d recommend Makers, Mysteries and Magic for anybody looking to understand filmmaking more, fans wanting to get a few extra tidbits of information about the series, those who enjoy listening to interviews (of which there are many) and those interested in a new documentary format. Dan pretending to tour us around Leavesden Studios on a golf cart throughout the series made the audio format a sure success!
Hana gave her view on the format, saying that it’s the intimacy of listening to the cast and crew which makes the audiobook such a joy:
Q: How do you think this audio documentary adds to anyone’s experience of seeing the film?
A: I think it gives the listener a unique experience of film-making coupled with Dan Fogler’s comic performance. You get to hear the voices of some of the unsung heroes and hear of some unusual talents that goes into making a movie like this as well as some really unique character insights from the cast. I think what’s really special about audio is how intimate it is; it’s wonderful to have Dan Fogler take you around the sets of this movie, or hear Ezra Miller describing how Claudia Kim could jump across buildings in high heels – I think it’s that intimacy that makes this really special – we hope it makes the listener feel you are right there with them.
Q: Who would you recommend this audio documentary to?
A: Anyone who has seen the film and would like to go a bit deeper into how it was made, I think if you’re a fan of podcasts and audio documentaries then this is definitely for you and I would recommend it to fans of the Wizarding World as well as anyone that has ever wondered about how these blockbuster movies are made! Our sincere hope though is that there is something for everyone; the access we were given is unrivalled to the set and this is every listener’s chance to get lost in a whole other world for a few hours.
Watch the trailer for the series below, and be sure to order the behind-the-scenes audio documentary Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – Makers, Mysteries and Magic at Pottermore here, and Audible here.
Thanks to Pottermore Publishing and Audible for providing a copy of ‘Makers, Mysteries and Magic’ to review, and to producer Hana Walker-Brown for the interview!