J.K. Rowling & Warner Bros announce multiple new Harry Potter movies underway

In a surprise announcement earlier today,
Warner Bros and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling
jointly announced that they have just signed
a multi-picture deal, allowing Warner Bros.
the rights to additional, original films
based in the Harry Potter mythology.

Although details are sketchy when it comes to
just how many films are included in this deal,
we do know that the first upcoming film 
will be very loosely based off the short HP spinoff book 
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them,
and will be set roughly 70 years before the first HP book/film.

It was hinted that, as the film is set only 70 years prior
to the first HP book/film, there may be some subtle Easter eggs
for fans of the Harry Potter series, HP book and/or film fans alike!

The screenplay for the film will be penned by J.K Rowling herself,
and it is presumed she will also act as an Executive Producer
for the film, as she did for all the previous Harry Potter films.
Although their choice of material may strike people as unusual,
(The book was a 60ish page HP creature encyclopedia covering HP books 1-3,)
when J.K. Rowling, who vowed that both the Harry Potter books and films
would end after "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", (The final book/2-part film,)
announces that multiple original Harry Potter films are on their way,
it can only be viewed at as a good thing for everyone all around.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition extends its stay in Japan

Good news for those of you living or visiting Japan!

Harry Potter: The Exhibition, which has been
enjoying a profitable stay in Japan at the moment,
will be now open for an additional two weeks,
until September 29th!

Originally only intended to stay through
June 22nd-September 16th, Warner Bros
has stuck a deal with the Mori Arts Center Gallery,
both parties mutually approving
the exhibition's extended run.

According to the press release:
"Due to popular demand from fans, Mori Arts Center Gallery, Roppongi Hills
is pleased to announce that Harry Potter: The Exhibition will extend its 
Japanese run by two additional weeks.
The exhibition will remain open through Sunday, September 29th, 2013."

So for those of you HP fans planning to visit Japan anyway,
or for those of you living in Japan to begin with,
there's never been a better time to go visit Harry Potter: The Exhibition then now!

Harry Potter gets its first official fan convention, starting Summer 2014!

Starting next Summer, Warner Bros. will be
launching something HP fans have been requesting
for a long time, an official HP fan convention.

Well, it looks like Warner Bros. isn't yet ready
to let go of the Harry Potter fandom anytime soon.

As of next year, Warner Bros, and Universal Orlando,
will be hosting “A Celebration of Harry Potter”
at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the HP theme park
located within Universal Orlando.

The three-day event will will featured a number of Harry Potter events,
from Q&As with talent and filmmakers, as well as numerous other presentations,
including the art of dueling at a wand-master class hosted by Paul Harris,
the choreographer who trained the Harry Potter film cast.

The event will last from Jan. 24-26.

Packages, which include hotel stays at Universal properties,
start at $395 or $675 per person, depending on the bundle type chosen.

It may not be a cheap event, but for the diehard Harry Potter fans
who won't mind spending a little extra cash to hang out with the HP film crew
at the Harry Potter theme park, this event looks like one well worth checking out.

Google Maps creates Diagon Alley virtual tour for HP fans

After Warner Bros. opened up its Harry Potter
themed studio tour in London, Harry Potter fans
throughout the world have been curious to see the
expansive film sets that helped create the
highest-grossing film franchise in history.

For those lucky to be living in the U.K. already,
It's a great deal, if you have the money to go.

For those of us in the United States, or otherwise abroad,
getting there can take a little (who am I kidding, A LOT OF) planning,
as well as no small amount of money.

Well, for now at least, Warner Bros is offering fans a bit of a treat.

Now you can take an exclusive virtual tour of Diagon Alley, free of charge,
simply by using Google Maps' street view mode, and boy, is it worth it.

Although it's a shame that other sets are unavailable for online touring,
it's understandable. Warner Bros. has got to make some money here, after all.
(Setting aside the fact they've collected probably 8 1/2 billion dollars
 from the series, between theater releases, and DVD releases.)

The link to the virtual tour is below. Take a look!

PotterMore announces big plans to expand!

PotterMore appears to be all over the news
these past few weeks. I think it's time for a recap:

*PotterMore plans to expand services:
 This was an interesting newstory,
not just because of it's title, because PotterMore
always seems to be planning new expansions,
but this quote from PotterMore's CEO,
Charlie Redmayne caught my eye:
"As it stands, if you don’t know the books,
you won’t get much out of PotterMore.
What we want to do is open it out for those people who haven’t read the books, or who haven’t seen the films, but perhaps come to it via the LEGO, or the Harry Potter computer games.”
How does PotterMore plan to attract potential viewers using these existing franchises?
I'd be all for embracing LEGO into PotterMore.

Dumb suggestion:Would LEGO PotterMore building sets seem an appropriate marketing tool?
It'll be interesting to see what they end up doing. This update is scheduled for late Summer.

PotterMore addresses complaints centered around poor commentating on its site:
One of the biggest "D'oh" moments on PotterMore is when you post a comment on the site,
anywhere on the site, and it takes anywhere up to an hour to be approved, and then posted.
PotterMore's seemingly overuse of user censorship has been said
to be one of its biggest drawbacks.
Fortunately, the PotterMore development team has, at last, you could say,
taken an interest in the problem, quickly addressed it, and upgraded the entire
user commentating system, which greatly speeds up the comment approval process:
"We recently improved the performance of commenting across the site.
As a result you should now see your posts appear almost immediately."

So? What do you think? Does this perk your curiosity?
Will PotterMore change the game, and gain the loyalty of a whole different audience?
We'll just have to hold our breath and find out...

(Don't seriously try to hold your breath that long.
PotterMore won't move THAT quickly. Cheers!)

Universal Orlando officially announces HP theme park expansion!

After several months of speculation and rumors,
Warner Bros. and Universal Orlando have officially
announced that an expansion to the still-wildly-popular
Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction.

The new addition, currently under the title of
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley,
is in fact, exactly what its name represents,
A whole new area, of roughly equal size of the original
Wizarding World portion, with all new shops,
a restaurant and an innovative, marquee attraction
based on the wizarding bank in Diagon Alley, Gringotts.

More details have been said to be revealed over time.

Universal has confirmed that they plan to open "Diagon Alley" in time for Summer 2014.

Review: PotterMore for PlayStation Home

As promised, and after much struggle  in getting my
PlayStation 3 to do so, I've finally had a look at what
everyone in the PotterMore community have been
talking about for the last month or so:
PotterMore for PlayStation Home.

PotterMore, as all HP fans probably know by now,
has become J.K. Rowling's virtual home for
all things Potter, including the Harry Potter e-books,
and the free interactive visual re-creation of scenes
taken from the book, in which users can see what
the author saw when first writing the book,
as well as some cheap 2-minute mini-games.

All of it interesting, but not enough to keep the fandom going for years to come on its own.

Now we come to PotterMore on PlayStation Home.

PlayStation Home took a hard look at what PotterMore was, and how it could better fit
on the PlayStation 3, and how the experience could be more interactive, fun,
and overall offer a better experience for users.

Only two Harry Potter locations have so far appeared in PotterMore in PlayStation Home:
Diagon Alley, (pictured above,) and the interior of the Hogwarts Express train.

Diagon Alley: An amazing sight to behold, especially with the PS3's full 1080p HD.
From the moment your PlayStation Home customized avatar steps into Diagon Alley,
they are given a temporary wizard's/witch's robe to blend into their surroundings,
and, (if you know where to go,) can participate in the fun exclusive "book herding" mini game.
In addition to this, users can, (sadly not for free) purchase their own animal companion.
(Which is either a cat, an owl, or a toad, of course!) As well as view Gringott's Bank,
although there appears to be no way to enter Gringott's Bank yet,
unlike the computer version of PotterMore.

Hogwarts Express: Players can explore this magnificent train from one end to the other,
sit down wherever they want to interact with other users, play some wizarding card game,
(which is overly-complicated and somewhat difficult to play when using a PS3 controller,)
 or challenge another wizard to a duel. The dueling mini-game has been vastly improved
from the previous version used on the PotterMore website, with simpler controls,
and overall, just a lot more fun.

Final Verdict: PotterMore at PlayStation Home greatly improves on what the PotterMore
website had started, and allows users to finally experience the wizarding world digitally in the
way J.K. Rowling had imagined it. But the exclusion of Hogwarts Castle cannot be overlooked.
The one major downside is that a visit to see everything in Diagon Alley and Hogwarts Express would only take 15-20 minutes. Hopefully Sony will address this in the future,
 and add more visitable locations over time.

Grade: A-

Wizarding World of Harry Potter on its way to Hollywood!

Inevitably, it would seem, Warner Bros and Universal
have finally answered what many of the Harry Potter
fandom have long been asking: When will a
"Wizarding World of Harry Potter" theme park
reach the west coast?

Well, those worries are now over.

In a press announcement made by Ron Meyer,
President and COO of Universal Studios,

he revealed that the addition of the "Wizarding World"is one of the many things
being added to Universal Hollywood in its estimated $1.6 billion budget for its upcoming
additions and expansions, including the induction of the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter."
The park will be located at Universal Hollywood, with constuction beginning sometime this Summer.

With production to begin so soon, it can be expected that we'll hear more updates on it soon.

With one "Wizarding World" location in Florida, another one in the works in Japan,
and this one packing its bags for Hollywood, the question now is: Where to next?

PotterMore launches on PlayStation home today!

For those of you who've been,
as Fred and George Weasley would say,
"hiding under a rock," we thought we'd give
a somewhat important announcement
concerning PotterMore,
and its future on PlayStation Home:
It's been released to the public! Go see it now!

We won't waste your time with a lot of needless blabber on our part,
but here's a press release issued today to everyone who subscribed
to PotterMore's e-mail notification system. (Including us.)

"We’re delighted to announce that from today, April 3,
owners of Sony’s PlayStation® 3 will be able to experience Pottermore
in a completely new way.

A selection of the beautifully illustrated Moments from Pottermore.com have now been
developed into virtual 3D environments, to bring you Pottermore at PlayStation Home.

Step inside Diagon Alley™ and board the Hogwarts Express

as your own customisable avatar, and enjoy four new mini-games;
experience the mayhem of Book Herding, test your knowledge with a Pottermore quiz,
share and collect Pottermore Trading Cards, and take part in an illicit Wizard’s Duel.

Dress your avatar in a wizard outfit – whether house robes or more casual wizard attire
– and purchase a companion from a choice of 14 owls, cats and toads.

As a Pottermore.com user, you can link your account with your PlayStation Network ID

to access additional content and spaces."
When it says "A selection of the...moments...have now been developed," It may mean
that some of the content that has appeared on the computer version of PotterMore may not
be visable to PotterMore on PlayStation Home users, or at least, not yet, so be warned.

Also, and this probably goes without saying,
you'll need a PlayStation 3 to access PotterMore on PlayStation Home.

We'll try to have a full review of PotterMore on PlayStation Home up for you all soon!

HP actor Richard Griffins dies at age 65

Richard Griffins, the famous and respected
british actor, who quickly gained favor with
movie audiences worldwide for his role in the
Harry Potter films as Harry's Uncle Vernon,
a constantly prejudiced and ill-tempered figure
with a distaste for Harry's magical potential,
out of a sense of fear which boarders paranoia.

Griffins passed away this past Thursday
as a result of complications from heart surgery.

Daniel Radcliffe released a reactionary statement following the news:

"Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career,
In August 2000, before official production had even begun on 'Potter,'
we filmed a shot outside the Dursleys' [house], which was my first ever shot as Harry.
I was nervous and he made me feel at ease.
Seven years later, we embarked on 'Equus' together. It was my first time doing a play,
but … his encouragement, tutelage and humor made it a joy."

I think I can speak for the Harry Potter fandom when I say that Richard Griffins
will be missed, and his role in the Harry Potter films, as well as the numerous other films
and stage productions he's been a part of, will not be soon forgotten.

Our sympathies reach out to the Griffins family in their time of grieving and loss.

PotterMore coming to PlayStation 3!

Just earlier today, PotterMore announced that,
in partnership with Sony, they have developed
a new, state-of-the art social version of PotterMore
for the PlayStation 3, using the full modern
visual graphics and social media capabilities
that the PlayStation 3 has to offer.

The PlayStation 3's social media/gaming software
"PlayStation Home" will act as the main home
for the PlayStation 3 version of PotterMore.

"PotterMore at PlayStation Home" will still stand unique,
and will be heavily connected with the original computer version,
even letting PlayStation 3 users connect their "PotterMore at PlayStation Home"
 accounts to their computer "PotterMore" account.

Here's the official description for "PotterMore at PlayStation Home":

"Our latest development from Pottermore enables you, as a PlayStation 3 user,
to actually step inside Diagon Alley™ and board the Hogwarts™ Express as your own
customisable avatar.

Once inside these 3D environments, you can also enjoy four new mini-games:
experience the mayhem of Book Herding, test your knowledge with a Pottermore quiz,
share and collect Pottermore Trading Cards, and take part in an illicit Wizard’s Duel.

If you have a Playstation Home account you’ll be able to actually step inside Diagon Alley
and board the Hogwarts Express as an Avatar, and once inside these 3D environments,
experience the mayhem of book herding, test your knowledge with a Pottermore quiz,
share and collect Trading Cards, and take part in an illicit Wizard’s Duel.

There’s the choice to customise your avatar with a selection of outfits
ranging from uniforms to house robes or more causal wizard attire.
And there’s a selection of 14 owls, cats or toads from which to purchase a companion.

Pottermore at PlayStation Home arrives in April

Opinion: Although I was one of the few who were not overly-impressed with
the computer version of PotterMore, I must admit this PlayStation adaption
is amazing, and I will certainly be among the first to give it a try.

Harry Potter books to be re-released with new covers!

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book,
Scholastic will be re-releasing all seven Harry Potter books,
featuring new, re-imagined covers, illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi,
the well-established illustrator of the best-selling "Amulet"
graphic novels.

At this time, only the trade paperback versions of the
Harry Potter books seem to be affected.

Hardcover copies of the Harry Potter will remain in their original state.

Kibuishi answered some questions about his new Potter covers via email last night.

Why redo the Harry Potter covers?
Anything that brings more people to the series is fantastic, and creating a new set of images
is a great way to introduce the fantasy to a new audience.

Being the author of a graphic novel series for middle grade readers,
I’ve spent several years working to teach kids to read- to help them understand and enjoy literature
– so they could take the next step into reading material like Harry Potter and beyond.

So when I have an opportunity to better pave that road- or help open that door –
to literature and learning, I’ll jump at the chance and put a tremendous amount of effort
and thought behind it.
The new generation of readers will likely never have heard of Harry Potter before.
I would love for them to see why the series is a classic.

Scholastic has announced these new paperbacks will hit store shelves sometime this September.

PotterMore Insider reveals how a PotterMore scene is created!

In a new "Making-Of" blog post launched
just a few days ago, the PotterMore Insider
goes into detail with Harry Potter fans
how a scene from the books is selected,
and re-created for use on PotterMore.

The artwork featured to the left is taken from an upcoming
PotterMore chapter of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."

"Many of you have expressed curiosity about how a Pottermore Moment is produced,
so we’re going to take you behind the scenes for an insight into how a Moment is created,
starting with the Magical Menagerie Moment from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

In order to provide a faithful companion to the reading experience without replicating
each and every passage from the books, we select key or interesting scenes
from the stories to depict on Pottermore.

Each potential scene is weighed against various criteria, from its relative importance
in the narrative, to how it might look when visualised, and if it lends itself to the inclusion
of interactive features and content.

We also like to highlight scenes that were omitted from the films,
or those where the film depiction differs from the books.

Like all Pottermore.com Moments, the Magical Menagerie Moment began its life as a black and white sketch that was drawn from a detailed brief based on thorough research into the location and moment being depicted."

What do you think of this process?
Does PotterMore accurately depict what was in the books through using this process?
It's an interesting creative process, if nothing else.