It’s hard to believe, as this is written, that there are less than six hours to midnight showings across the world of the next Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And only ten days until the last book is released in J. K. Rowling’s magnificent fantasy series. Whatever will we do when the final story gets told in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Both Harry Potter and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings have forever changed how fantasy books and films are read, seen, and enjoyed.
Yet films, by their celluloid nature, have always been rooted in fantasy. Some of the earliest movies made were highly "fantastique" – for example, 1902′s Le Voyage Dans la Lune by the visionary French magician and cinematographer Georges Melies. Cartoons and animation played a significant role too. And fantasy literature for children has been and still is a rich source of inspiration for filmmakers doing live action movies. So it comes as no surprise that, with both the critical and financial success of the Potter and Tolkien films, there is strong interest in bringing more classic fantasy novels to the silver screen.
So much so, in fact, that we someday may look back at the 1990s and 2000s as a golden age for fantasy live action films that all ages enjoy. Here, for example, is a sampling of fantasy works that are slated for theatre release yet this year: Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series (October, 2007); Beowulf (November, 2007 – with Crispin Glover as Grendel!); and Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass (December, 2007.) Still in production yet also eagerly awaited for 2008 are C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian, Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart, and Coraline by the ever-prolific Neil Gaiman. And let’s hope the wait will be worth it for what may the be the most anticipated film of 2009 – J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy, The Hobbit!
Though his books and films will end, those who’ve loved and grown up with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone need not despair. For Warner Brothers and Universal Orlando Resort are coming to the rescue in late 2009. That’s when "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" will open as an interactive "physical environment" within Universal’s "Islands of Adventure" Theme Park. So muggles, beware – Harry’s magic will live on!