Back to Hogwarts: 'Harry Potter' fans celebrate the traditional first day of school

In the 'Potter' books, Hogwarts students always head back to school on Sept. 1. Many fans are celebrating today and 'Potter' fanatics have a new book (by Rowling although not set in the 'Potter' universe), a new theme park, and – a bit further out – a new movie to look forward to.

Murray Close/Warner Brothers
The 'Harry Potter' films star Emma Watson (l.), Daniel Radcliffe (center), and Rupert Grint (r.).

It’s time for another school year, “Harry Potter” fans.

While American schoolchildren wait every year to find out what day they’ll be walking back through their school doors, students at Hogwarts, the magical school attended by Harry and his pals, didn’t need to check for an announcement. School at Hogwarts begins every year on Sept. 1, with students traveling to King’s Cross Station in London to take the Hogwarts Express train to school. This date was often eagerly awaited by Harry himself, who usually stayed with his cruel relatives the Dursleys during the summer. 

“Potter” fans all over the world are celebrating today, and “Potter” author J.K. Rowling herself got in on the festivities, noting that within the chronology of the “Potter” books, this day in 2015 is when Harry’s son James Sirius began his Hogwarts career.

So what do “Potter” fans have to look forward to over the next school year? Those who are old enough to read Rowling’s more adult work can keep an eye out for the new book in her "Cormoran Strike" mystery series, which Rowling writes under the pen name Robert Galbraith. The book “Career of Evil” is due to be released on Oct. 20.

In addition, California residents soon won’t have to travel to Florida to experience the world of Harry for themselves. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is reportedly set to open in Universal Studios Hollywood sometime this spring. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is currently part of the Universal Studios park in Orlando, Fla. and is a big hit. The Florida branch has already opened a second part of the park, which is based on the Diagon Alley shopping area of the “Potter” books. The Diagon Alley section opened last summer.

While not technically within the bounds of this coming school year, many “Potter” fans are also eagerly anticipating the film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which opens in November 2016. “Fantastic” is set in the world of “Potter” and is based on a textbook of the same name that Harry and his friends studied in class. The movie “Fantastic” tells the story of the textbook’s author, Newt Scamander, who is an expert on magical creatures, and Rowling is writing the screenplay for the movie. “The Theory of Everything” actor Eddie Redmayne is set to play Newt. 

The “Potter” series is indicative of a larger trend in Hollywood of turning hot literary properties into wide-ranging series with multiple experiences and platforms. Not only are there seven “Potter” books, eight “Potter” movies, and two theme parks with a third on the way (there's also one in Japan), but now there will be more movies – not about Harry, but about characters living in the same fictional universe.

It's become such a given that a popular property will continue on beyond its original source material that “The Hunger Games” stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth were recently asked about projects extending beyond the original books and movies. (The last “Hunger Games” film, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” is set to be released this November.)

“Lionsgate obviously must be thinking, there’s got to be some way we can keep this going,” talk show host Conan O’Brien told the stars. Hutcherson seemed to drop a hint, saying, “There is” when asked if there was a future project, and then backtracking, but an anonymous source reportedly said in an interview that there are currently no plans for future “Hunger Games” films.

But Lawrence herself acknowledged the tendency to simply remake a property in the absence of new material. “I know that there’s going to be a reboot [of ‘The Hunger Games’] with younger, hotter people in our lifetime,” she said. “Like, within 10 years.”

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