‘Harry Potter’ continues to enchant fans with extended franchise

Photo+courtesy+of+Gael+Reyes.

Photo courtesy of Gael Reyes.

Gael Reyes

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” enchanted fans this past weekend, soaring to a $75 million opening weekend debut, according to Variety.

The much-anticipated Harry Potter spinoff landed in theaters last Friday, and dedicated fans of the original series were thrilled at the chance to glimpse a new side of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.

Junior communication studies major Ellen Breighner expressed her enthusiasm and anticipation prior to seeing the new installment.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I like that it takes place in the United States. I think that’s fun just because I feel like we know a lot about the wizarding world in England.”

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was a textbook mentioned in “Harry Potter” that was used by students at Hogwarts. The five movies will follow the author, Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, as he discovers magical creatures.

Abigail Jones, a freshman integrated language arts major, has been a fan of the “Harry Potter” series since age five. She said she worries new releases will taint the original story, and referenced the backlash “The Cursed Child” received, a stage play not written by Rowling.

“I’m really hoping that ‘Fantastic Beasts’ is good,” Jones said before the showing. “Again, I’m pretty skeptical. I know a lot of classic fans are worried about it, but (J.K. Rowling) was so close working with this project. I think she was probably closer than working on ‘Cursed Child,’ so I have high hopes for it.”

Downtown Kent hosted a celebration for the release of the “Cursed Child” script book over the summer, complete with costume contests and Potter-themed menu items.

Junior political science major Tanmay Shah said he has fond memories of growing up with the “Harry Potter” series, calling the international phenomenon “magical.”

“It’s super cliched, and I’m sure I’m not saying something new, but books and language really are a way to bridge differences,” Shah said. “That in itself is really magical.”

Shah recalled watching the first few movies dubbed in Hindi at age nine while in India. Shah saw “Fantastic Beasts” opening day and reflected on the nostalgia it brought on.

“I thought it was a great movie with amazing visuals and a story that didn’t disappoint,” Shah said. “I loved the way it really showed how magic interacted in the real world. For me, that daily and seemingly everyday use of magic really brought back memories of the first and second movies from the original series.”

Marianne Martens, an assistant professor of library and information science at Kent State, said she believes the franchise’s continued success is because of the participatory elements of the series.

“If you’re looking at a series like ‘Harry Potter,’ that series has had this phenomenal effect on people,” Martens said. “I think the world-building that J.K. Rowling has created within ‘Harry Potter’ just really allows the reader to become immersed in that world and to almost feel like they belong.”

Franchise-related releases such as the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios or the launch of Pottermore.com are just a few ways in which Rowling has kept the fans engaged.

Martens also emphasized the vastness of the series, enabling almost everyone to find something to relate to.

“There’s something about ‘Harry Potter’ that appeals to almost everyone,” Martens said. “The wealth of characters and experiences within, really allow people to connect.”

Fans of the series will be able to connect with the wizarding world once more in theaters through “Fantastic Beasts.” The second installment is slated for a November 2018 release.

Gael Reyes is the libraries reporter, contact her at [email protected]