If you’re feeling a little detached from the wizarding world right now (i.e. you never could swing the funds for a Cursed Child trip), I have potentially splendid news. A Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them app will have players joining the Ministry of Magic and wrangling up monsters. Available November 17, a day before the film’s review, the app could be a big win for the next Potterverse franchise... as the excitement for this new chapter doesn’t seem quite as palpable to the fanbase.
Through all the hype surrounding Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, in spite of all the brilliant casting and elaborate shows of spell casting, I'm having a hard time buying that this is a Harry Potter film. And that's because, in part, it isn't. As of the first movie, we don't have any of our familiar faces returning to the big screen. Newt Scamander is a whispered name in the books (at best), and we're dealing with an entirely new environment and era.
So, yeah, it's a sort of spin-off series that lends itself loosely to the larger Harry Potter mythos (I mean, those crazy kids study from that text book), and that's definitely the hook for fans of the original series. However, this movie is a bigger sell in the sense that we haven't grown up and developed an emotional attachment to these characters. Add four more sequels, and you're asking a lot from a demographic now in their deep 20s, maybe even 30s.
Now look, I am no fair-weather Potterverse fan. My entire senior thesis revolved around the magical community it created for the internet generation. Long before Pottermore was birthed into existence, fans would try to find ways to enroll in Hogwarts. It started with late '90s forum RPGs and eventually led to bigger, real life things like Pottercon and Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Historically, fans have always wanted to join in on the magic, to have a stock in the story J.K. Rowling was telling, to get sorted into a house and drink loads of Butterbeer. So while making emotional ties to the characters has been a big part of creating this fandom, the factor to Harry Potter's success has been the audience participation, the wanting to be a witch or wizard.
And that yearning, coupled with this app, could just be the thing to get longtime Potter fans even more psyched on Fantastic Beasts. While questing to capture hippogriffs or what have you'll, they'll feel like they're in on Newt's story, even in a superficial, confined-to-one's-iPhone-screen way. I mean, hell, "Pokemon Go" was able to jack up Pokemon nostalgia for a solid month or two (it was a great summer). So, if done successfully, this could not only invigorate interest in Fantastic Beasts as a series, but it could revive interest in the original Harry Potter canon.
Not that I'm ever worried, through it all, that the Harry Potter fandom will ever die out. As long as someone's cutting Rowling checks, that universe is going to continue to spin, and people will continue to shell out money to be a part of that world. Fingers crossed, though, that the Fantastic Beasts app will make for a substantial fan companion.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures; Giphy (2)