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J.K. Rowling returns to wizarding world for screenplay debut

Author J.K. Rowling poses for a portrait while publicizing her adult fiction book "The Casual Vacancy" at Lincoln Center in New York October
Author J.K. Rowling poses for a portrait while publicizing her adult fiction book "The Casual Vacancy" at Lincoln Center in New York October

LONDON (Reuters) - Best-selling "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling will return to the wizarding world for her screenplay debut with a film inspired by one of her fictional boy wizard's textbooks.

Rowling has agreed to write the screenplay for "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", a film from Warner Bros. based on the adventures of Newt Scamander - the fictional author of a Hogwarts textbook of the same name.

"I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it," Rowling said on Thursday in an emailed statement from Warner Bros. Entertainment, a unit of Time Warner Inc.

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" will be the first in a series of films about the adventures of Scamander and will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, the 48-year-old Rowling said.

But the story will start in New York, 70 years before the Potter tale gets under way.

"Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world," she said.

Warner Bros. has distribution rights outside Britain of the BBC TV adaptation of Rowling's first adult novel "The Casual Vacancy", Harry Potter theme parks, websites, videogames and consumer products.

Rowling said that Warner Bros. approached her with the pitch for the film, but she could not stomach the idea of someone else writing one of her own characters.

"I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of ‘Fantastic Beasts', realized by another writer was difficult," she said.

"As hard-core Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favorite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood."

Since her seven Harry Potter novels became a global publishing phenomenon, selling an estimated 450 million copies, Rowling's every move is followed closely by the industry.

The books, and a hugely successful movie franchise, helped turn her into the world's first author billionaire.

However, Rowling has repeatedly said that she had no plans to write any more about the world of Harry Potter since her last book in the series "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" came out in 2007.

(Reporting by Paul Casciato and Alice Jaffe; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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