November 16 marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first of 10 films based on JK Rowling’s fantasy novels, including the two in the Fantastic Beast series.
The films took almost $10 billion at the global box office, becoming the third highest-grossing movie franchise in history, so it’s not surprising that fans have been driven into something of a frenzy by reports in the UK that Warner Bros’ bosses are planning a Friends-style reunion for the movies’ stars, to mark the occasion later this month.
There has so far been no official confirmation of the reported plans from either the studio or the cast members, but The Sun newspaper said an anonymous source has confirmed invitations have been sent to all the main cast members, and that plans are “shrouded in secrecy” and that “they have offered big money to the cast to reunite”.
In January, it was also reported that HBO Max was in the very early stages of discussions exploring a live-action Harry Potter TV series, although the streaming platform denied it.
What would a 'Harry Potter' reunion entail?
It has been said it will be shot at London’s Warner Bros Studio Tour, which would certainly help take care of some of the practicalities, since many of the sets from the films remain in place at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction. If it goes ahead, it's expected to recreate some key scenes from the movies, with the Yule Ball and boarding of the Hogwarts Express singled out as likely candidates for a rerun.
Yet, it seems fairly clear that much is going to depend on whether Harry Potter himself – British actor Daniel Radcliffe – accepts his invitation. A Harry Potter reunion without Harry Potter would surely be impossible, so a “no” from Radcliffe would seemingly kill off any plans.
Is he likely to accept? It’s hard to tell. While the cited “big money” may help, Radcliffe hasn’t done badly for himself since the franchise came to a close for him with 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
The actor’s personal net worth was judged by 2020’s Sunday Times Rich List at a healthy £94 million ($126.5m) and he’s gone to quite some effort to distance himself from his role as the young wizard, and family cinema in general.
Radcliffe’s first role post-Potter was as lawyer Arthur Kipps in the terrifying Hammer horror The Woman in Black and he’s made a habit of selecting distinctly adult roles in recent years. Other roles include the poet Allen Ginsberg in festival favourite Kill Your Darlings, as a flatulent corpse in the 2016 indie oddity Swiss Army Man, and as an idealistic FBI agent committed to taking down white supremacists in the unsettling Imperium.
In other words, Radcliffe has frequently gone out of his way to select roles as far removed from the wholesome boy wizard as possible.
That wouldn’t necessarily stop him from returning for a reunion, however. He has always spoken fondly of his time as Potter, telling Total Film in 2010 that he will always be “proud to be associated” with the films.
Almost as essential as Potter himself would be sidekick Hermione Granger, played by Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint’s Ron Weasley. Like Radcliffe, Watson has forged a successful, indie-tinged career since her Potter days, also progressing from child actor to respected feminist spokeswoman and UN Goodwill Ambassador. Her 2021 fortune was valued at about $80m by Forbes.
Out of the three, Grint is probably the one with the lowest profile post-Potter, though with an estimated $50m fortune, as well as a £7m ($9.4m) mansion to call home and a world record for the quickest Instagram account to reach one million followers (four hours and one minute when he opened his account in November 2020), he’s not exactly small fry. Grint currently stars in Apple TV’s Servant, which he also executive produces.
So, none of the central trio really need the money from the reunion, but, unusually for actors who have been so strongly associated with childhood roles, all three still speak fondly of their time in Potter.
The rest of the cast reads like a Who’s Who of UK thespians, and while it would be nice to see the likes of Gary Oldman, Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith return for the reunion, everyone outside the central trio is largely expendable.
If these three sign on the dotted line, it’s been reported that shooting would start almost immediately, and sources have claimed we could even see something as soon as the end of November. There have been no new Potter books written since the series close, so, as with Friends, we’ll likely see the stars reminisce about their time in the Wizarding World, along with those mooted scene reconstructions.
After 10 Potter-starved years, we muggles may finally get our next dose of witchcraft and wizardry.