Secrets of Dumbledore Screenplay Is Available Tomorrow: Will You Read It?

19 July is the publication date for “the official complete screenplay of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore by J.K. Rowling & Steve Kloves, accompanied by illuminating behind-the-scenes content and commentary.” That date, of course, is tomorrow. You’ll be forgiven if you forgot that a new book by J. K. Rowling will be available for reading when bookstores open Tuesday — there won’t be any Midnight Madness events naturally — and when the Amazon Prime trucks begin deliveries. I think it’s fair to say that not since Philosopher’s Stone or Cuckoo’s Calling has a book by The Presence been published with so little fanfare from book vendors and so little enthusiasm from Wizarding World fandom. At Amazon its sales ranking is only #2356 (the DVD is at #21 for films).

The Amazon page for the book tells us this about what screenplay readers can expect for only $25, 11% off the list price of $28:

Professor Albus Dumbledore knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches, and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?

The official screenplay of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is the ultimate companion to the film, and invites readers to explore every scene of the complete script penned by J.K. Rowling & Steve Kloves. Special features include behind-the-scenes content and commentary from David Yates, David Heyman, Jude Law, Eddie Redmayne, Colleen Atwood, and more.

Three quick notes after the jump! All as preface to the question, “Are you buying a copy of the Beasts 3 screenplay?”

(1) What Took So Long?

The movie was released at the end of March (UK) and the second week of April (US). The DVD came out on 28 June. And we’re just now getting the “official screenplay,” which, unless it is very much unlike the first two “original screenplays,” is only a transcript of the movie with a few celebrity add-ons. There is little to no ‘buzz’ about this publishing event just as there is little to no interest in the film four months after its premiere. We’re months away from Christmas so it won’t be picked up as a gift for Big Rowling Fans, something akin to chocolate or flowers. I’m totally missing why this book wasn’t available at the film’s release or at the DVD appearance. I think I do understand, giving how disappointing the first two screenplays were, why they decided to juice the production with some extras, but that shouldn’t have taken months to assemble. Clue me in, publishing world insiders!

(2) It’s Not a Mina Lima Production.

The only upside to the first two “original screenplays” was that each was a work of art. Yes, any reader had to feel ripped off to some degree given the few words per page and the very few departures from the film transcript. Still, the decorative flourishes of the Mina Lima team were throwbacks to Victorian era book design. That this edition will be 304 mostly empty pages without those graceful touches makes it even less inviting.

(3) Why Is It So Expensive?

When Rowling books are published, as a rule I buy the hardcover copy on the day of publication and the audio book version for repeated listening as soon as I’m done with the first reading. That runs me close to forty dollars as a rule and I don’t blink at the cost. When my children were living at home — and the seventh only left the nest last year — I bought multiple copies of the books so we wouldn’t have to wait on someone to finish reading to pick it up. Why do I think paying $25 for this is akin to robbery?

Perhaps I feel gouged because the first screenplay hardcover edition is available new for $13.40, also 304 pages, and the second for $15.70, again new, hardcover, and 304 pages? At $28 list, the third volume is twice as much as the first for the same number of mostly empty pages. Are we supposed to blame Putin for this inflated price as we are for gasoline cost hikes?

(*) Are You Buying a Copy?

Those three “notes” I realize now sound like three “whining complaints.” I am buying a copy of the book and perhaps I should deduct my savings in that I didn’t buy a movie ticket and have not yet bought a DVD. That represents something like a $40 in fees I dodged in order to have the experience of ‘book first.’ I wonder if I am one of the very few in this status, namely, someone who follows Rowling’s work closely and attentively but who has lost interest for the most part in her collaborative adventures outside of her published stories that she acknowledges as her own.

Please let me know if you are buying a copy, and, whether you are or not, if you are interested in reading discussion here about the “complete screenplay” by “Rowling [ampersand] Kloves.” More anon after we have a copy in hand to discuss!


  1. Wayne Stauffer says

    I’m a die hard book reader and am going later today to get my copy. Barnes & Noble membership eases the price by 10% on top of other discounts. I, too, prefer hardcover.
    If JKR wrote it, I’ll buy it.

  2. “If JKR wrote it, I’ll buy it.”

    Patricio Tarantino notes that Rowling holds the copyright to the story, not Kloves, but the question remains, in this collaborative effort, in which Rowling’s story was effectively re-written and re-shaped by a professional screenwriter, in what sense can we think “JKR wrote it”?

    She does not include either of the “original” screenplays, this “complete” screenplay, or ‘Cursed Child’ in her list of books she has written. If she doesn’t, why are we?

  3. Wayne Stauffer says

    Good question…
    At the back of the book (Secrets) they are listed as “also by JK Rowling,” but that may be publishers device.
    The hardcover is not devoid of illustrations: plenty of Mina-Lima-like graphic arts, costume sketches, and scene design renderings (all black and white). Numerous quarter-page comments by select actors, producers, and designers, but, telling in the absence, no comments by Rowling. I miss the matching cover design to go with the first 2…

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Won’t buy it (maybe if it gets remaindered?) – would like a leisurely library look… really enjoyed earlier detailed discussions of FB versions

  5. Kelly Loomis says

    I pre-ordered it. I like to see what descriptions go along with the dialogue. Sometimes that gives some insight into the story. Plus, I want any book with her name on it for my collection.

    I do feel this is, but isn’t, her story. We know how much gets cut or changed by David in the editing room. Plus, “co-authoring” the script this time into the current movie formulae may have changed how she wanted the story to unfold. WB did not involve her at all in the media interviews and I missed that. I enjoy hearing her further explain what was going on in her head in regards to the characters and story.

  6. Like you, John, I haven’t seen the film but I purchased the e-book version on the train to work this morning and have read it through. It wasn’t all bad, but for a Wizarding World story, it didn’t feel much like classic Rowling. Much less than the Strike series or even Casual Vacancy, which clearly have a lot of shared “storytelling DNA” (if you will) with Harry Potter, despite the very different subject matters. Sadly, the plot was bland and lacked substance. I too, no longer have much interest in Rowling’s “collaborative adventures”.

  7. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Cricket is delightful, if I can watch with someone who really knows cricket and can quietly keep me informed as to what I am seeing. I would be fascinated to read JKR’s contracts with WB with a copyright/intellectual property lawyer to guide me. What, exactly – and what, arguably – are her obligations and freedoms? For instance, there is a world of difference if WB can exclude her, she can absent herself, or both – where contributions, appearances, attributions of authorship, etc. are concerned – and then there’s editorial authority, terms of ‘collaboration’, and so on…

  8. I read an eBook version from the public library, and was disappointed. No dates/years given, which were present in the previous two screen plays, to help set the events in time. And almost all of the “celebrity extras” were material I had heard in either DVD/BluRay extras or other clips available to the public for promoting the movie. Watching the movie from a disk with the subtitles on and also watching all the “extras” provides more information that the screenplay. Now, there was a little bit of new info, but not enough to justify the price. If I can find a remaindered or used copy cheep I will probably get it as a completest, but not new at near full price.

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