Troubled Blood BBC1 Trailer Thoughts

Louise Freeman posted a link yesterday to the trailer thas been released for the Bronte Studio’s adaptation of Troubled Blood for BBC1, a series of four shows that will be released on 11 December, a prime time to promote the series before peak Christmas shopping.

It’s very brief but the clips provided are intriguing, both for what they show and do not show.

After the jump, five first-thoughts on this adaptation in light of the clip! [Read more…]

‘Sorting Hat’ Pronounced Dead at 98; Requiescat in Pace, Leslie Phillips

Leslie Phillips, CBE, actor, voice artist, and UK legend, died yesterday, aged 98. Though a star in over 150 movies, mostly bawdy comedies, he is best known to Americans as the voice of the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter movies, a part he voiced in the film adaptations of Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and the second Deathly Hallows.

Phillips’ participation in the Potter movies was somehow very fitting. The repertoire company of UK greats that were assembled for the eight Hogwarts blockbusters, after all, was somehow reminiscent of the troupe that made the Carry On film series, 31 movies over forty years, one of the most successful franchises in British history. Only the adaptations of Ian Fleming’s James Bond adventures has gone on longer. Leslie Phillips starred in three of the first Carry On romps — Jim Dale, a voice much more familiar to American Potter-philes, was in eleven of these politically incorrect farces — and his “Ding-Dong!” “Well, hello!” and “I say” catch-phrases helped make the franchise as popular as it became.

At Phillips’ death, Dale is one of the only surviving Carry On stalwarts, Sid James, Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Williams, and Joan Sims having died years ago. Phillips refused to move to Hollywood even though he had had some success in a 1957 Gene Kelly musical because he feared becoming a “poor man’s David Niven.” He wound up instead after a long career in English comedies as the voice of Godric Gryffindor’s headdress, the iconic Sorting Hat at Hogwarts. No doubt his fans in the UK recognized his voice — “Ding Dong!” — and were delighted at his appearance in the Warner Brothers films, a link to the grand tradition of Pinewood Studios.

Read all about him in the Daily Mail obituary or his Wikipedia page and watch a documentary about the Carry On films made on the occasion of the 40th anniversary party for cast and crew in 1998. I couldn’t help but think while watching that of the much slicker productions made for the Harry Potter 20th anniversary reunion last year. If any of you have Leslie Phillips memories to share, please do — especially those who think, as I do, that his voice role in the Potter films was a hat-tip from Leavesden Studios to Pinewood.

How to Save the Fantastic Beasts Series

Yesterday Elizabeth Baird-Hardy masterfully summarized the latest news out of Hollywood about the Fantastic Beasts movies in a post fittingly titled, No More Fantastic Beasts Films? In brief, the word is that the CEO of Warner Brothers-Discovery has lucrative franchises on his mind, wants to work with Rowling to revive the comatose Harry Potter golden goose, and that he hinted Rowling was not interested. He did not mention the Fantastic Beasts movies, which as Prof Baird Hardy noted, is in keeping with the revenues generated (or, more precisely, not generated) by the first three Beasts films.

She ended this post by asking, “If Newt’s big screen adventures are over, will there be book adaptations to connect the dots between the prequels and the beginning of Harry’s story? Do you care?” I think it is fair to say that I don’t care, maybe even obligatory to mention as I haven’t yet read the third screenplay or seen Secrets of Dumbledore. Trapped on a British Airways flight recently, I thought I would have a chance to watch it but the screening technology for the seat-backs failed, a turn I took as providential.

do care, though, about what Rowling writes, so here are my answers to those end of post questions, answers that include a more or less clear path forward to revive and reinvigorate the Beasts franchise. [Read more…]

No More Fantastic Beasts Films?

According to widely reported accounts, Warner Brothers may be shelving the Fantastic Beasts series. With the last two films getting less positive response and less box office response than theFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) - IMDb first one, it appears we may not see the remaining two stories in Newt’s series, or at least not anytime soon.  Some news stories blame controversy or the rumored feud between the studios and Rowling, but it seems far more likely that the issue is financial. According to the Internet Movie Database, the first Fantastic Beasts film grossed $814,044,001 worldwide,  but the second only grossed $654,855,901 and the third $405,161,334. Franchises are supposed to make more money with each installment, or at least have close box offices, not drop sharply in revenue. For comparison, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone earned  $1,023,842,938 and the eighth film, the second part of The Deathly Hallows, generated $1,342,359,942. Each of the different installments had varying returns, but they all continue to be successful, generating income and running repeatedly on syndication. Warner Bros has cut other projects that were not expected to perform well.

While some outlets are declaring the Fantastic Beasts series as dead as Professor Binns, other stories are focusing on Warner Brothers’ interest in making more Harry Potter movies, with Rowling, if she is interested. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav says the studio is really interested in franchises and wants to see “if we can do something with J.K. on Harry Potter going forward.” The fact that he refers to her as “J.K.,” rather than as “Jo,” or “Rowling,” is interesting, and he also seems to be confused about the potential for more films about Harry, seeing the franchise as just another cash cow rather than as an adaptation of a book series whose books have all been adapted. Some think Warner Bros may try to move forward with a Cursed Child  adaptation, and some of the the film’s stars and director Chris Columbus seem interested, but the studio’s franchise focus may instead mean that the entire series could be getting a reboot with entirely new actors.

If Newt’s big screen adventures are over, will there be book adaptations to connect the dots between the prequels and the beginning of Harry’s story? Do you care? Thoughts, theories?

Farewell to our Beloved Keeper of The Keys–Robbie Coltrane

As book people, we here at Hogwarts Professor sometimes find ourselves at odds with the movie people when texts are adapted for the screenRobbie Coltrane, Hagrid in Harry Potter, Dead at 72. Casting is a frequent bone of contention, as we sometimes disagree with the way a film company plans to depict a character (although, unlike Anomie, we are strictly non-violent and limit our dissatisfaction to snarky comments). Yet, there are other times when a character is so perfectly cast as to align exactly with the image many of us had in our heads when reading the book. While good makeup and costuming can certainly transform an actor into a fitting vision of the character on the page, there is more to becoming a perfectly cast actor. Sometimes, something truly beautiful happens, and an actor truly embodies the literary character in a way that is nothing short of magical. Robbie Coltrane, who passed away October 14, was just such a brilliant fit. While he had an impressive career and garnered many awards, he is most widely known and beloved as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter film adaptations, and he will be sorely missed. [Read more…]