The beauty of the Harry Potter book series isn’t just the way it captivates our imagination, it’s the way it appeals to readers of all ages. Whether you grew up reading about Harry and his adventures in a world of witchcraft and wizardry, or found yourself immersed in the books at the same time as your children, we can all appreciate the spellbinding literary power that J.K. Rowling cast over us in each of her seven consecutive narratives. Following the success of the fantasy novels (450 million copies sold worldwide), it was on to the cinema to experience the magic of Hogwarts with the first of the films, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, being released in 2001. Many of us watched with awe as Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson played out the world’s favourite fantasy story on the big screen over a ten-year period, as they managed to keep us on the edge of our seats, even when we knew what was coming.
It is estimated the entire film series grossed $7.7 billion around the world and with the latest book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, due to be published on 31st July, 2016, the Harry Potter brand has found another avenue to draw in more revenue. The stage. Jamie Parker (Harry), Paul Thornley (Ron) and Noma Dumezweni (Hermoine) take to the Palace Theatre for Jack Thorne’s new play which based on the latest book. Performed in two parts, demand for tickets since their initial release has been almost impossible to keep up with. The show is constantly sold out with 40 tickets being held back to be released on the Friday before the following week’s show. At up to £100 per ticket for each part, the next few months and most likely years to come the play will undoubtedly bolster the jaw-dropping $15 billion net worth of the Harry Potter franchise.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has received rave reviews from film critics up and down the country. Michael Billington of The Guardian called it a “thrilling theatrical spectacle”, whilst The Daily Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish gave the play five stars and said: “British theatre hasn’t known anything like it for decades and I haven’t seen anything directly comparable in all my reviewing days”. It appears that anything the Harry Potter name touches turns to gold. It doesn’t matter if it’s one of the seven books, eight blockbuster movies, eleven video games or 400+ licensed products, it really is the gift that keeps on giving.
It’s hard to think of many brands that have managed to diversify themselves so much in recent years. Harry Potter has taken the enthusiasm, and in some cases addiction, of its fans and turned it into an incredibly successful money making tool. We may never see a book evolve into a film, a play, an online community and even a theme park ever again. We can criticise the intense commercialisation of what started off as such an innocent product but we can’t complain about the quality of the results. We so often see a brand exhaust all options as a means to diversify itself and eventually tire of their efforts but Harry Potter, so far, has managed to buck the trend.