Q&A: Producer Colin Callender On His Next Chapter, Converging Theater, Film & Television And Taking On Harry Potter

By | Friday April 4, 2014 @ 1:21pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

callenderColin Callender‘s first producing effort, a nine-hour TV adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage production of The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby launched UK’s Channel 4 and won him his first Emmy in 1983. After a stint as an independent producer in his native Britain, Callender joined HBO where he shepherded films and miniseries like Angels In America, John Adams, Maria Full Of Grace and American Splendor to the tune of 104 Emmy Awards, 29 Golden Globes, 3 Oscars, and top awards at the Sundance Film Festival. Since leaving HBO in 2008, he has kept a low profile. Having started his career in theater, as stage manager at London’s Royal Court Theatre, Callender returned to his roots and built a theater slate during a break from television because of a three-year non-compete with HBO. His first play ever as a producer was Nora Ephron‘s Lucky Guy starring Tom Hanks, which was a hit last year. A year later, he is probably the busiest Broadway producer at the moment with three high-profile shows, Hedwig And The Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris, which already is sizzling at the boxoffice, Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina and Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth in his New York debut. Callender also has teamed with J.K. Rowling and British theater producer Sonia Friedman for an original stage play for UK theatre based on the Harry Potter stories. Read More »

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J.K. Rowling Posts Part 1 Of Her ‘History Of The Quidditch World Cup’

By | Friday March 14, 2014 @ 5:29am PDT

120223_RowlingLONDON, ENGLAND, March 14, 2014 – Pottermore.com, the digital platform from author J.K. Rowling devoted to the world of Harry Potter, today posted the first part of her “History of the Quidditch World Cup.” Rowling’s 2,400-word history of the thrilling game played by witches and wizards on flying broomsticks is featured in the popular Harry Potter series of books. “History of the Quidditch World Cup” is one of Rowling’s longest pieces of original content ever posted on Pottermore, which launched April 2012.

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R.I.P. Roger Lloyd-Pack; British Sitcom Star, ‘Harry Potter’ Actor

By | Thursday January 16, 2014 @ 5:24am PST

roger lloyd packRoger Lloyd-Pack, the British actor best known for his role in classic sitcom Only Fools And Horses, has died. He passed away at home on Wednesday night, suffering from pancreatic cancer, his agent told the UK press. … Read More »

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J.K. Rowling To Co-Produce ‘Harry Potter’ Prequel Play On London’s West End

Harry Potter stage playHarry Potter may have hung up his Firebolt, but his creator J.K. Rowling is not entirely done with the boy wizard. In September, Warner Bros and the author announced they were putting a new film series in the works starting with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, an original story based on the Hogwarts textbook that appears on a reading list in the first Potter tome. Now, Rowling is taking Harry to the London stage. She will collaborate with a writer on, but not pen herself, a new play about the early years of The Boy Who Lived. Rowling will also be a co-producer on the project with Sonia Friedman (The Book Of Mormon) and Colin Callender, the former HBO Films president who’s busy in the UK with a Dangerous Liaisons adaptation percolating at the BBC as well as a miniseries based on Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. The Daily Mail‘s Baz Bamigboye got the jump on the story late this week, and since then, a posting to Rowling’s Facebook page says the as-yet untitled play will unveil what it was like to be the boy in the cupboard under the stairs at No. 4 Privet Drive. Read More »

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Deadline’s Global Showbiz Watch With Nancy Tartaglione, Episode 7

Listen to (and share) Episode 7 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch, With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about why the distributors of Blue Is The Warmest Color are seeing red over Oscar foreign-language film rules; the first Saudi Arabian film ever submitted for the Oscars; J.K. Rowling spinning off a screenplay in Harry Potter land and a Potter producer taking on Paddington bear; and why Vivendi is considering a spinoff of its own.

Deadline Global Showbiz Watch, Episode 7 (MP3 format)
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Warner Bros, J.K. Rowling Team For New ‘Harry Potter’-Inspired Film Series

Expanding their longterm, lucrative partnership on the Harry Potter franchise, Warner Bros and author J.K. Rowling are putting a new film series in the works. Rowling will make her screenwriting debut on Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, an original story based on the Hogwarts textbook that appears on a reading list in the first Potter tome, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone. This is the first in a planned series of films and will feature magical creatures and characters from the Potter mythology, including the textbook’s fictitious author, Newt Scamander. Rowling says it’s not a sequel or a prequel to the Potter adventures, but will kick off in New York, 70 years before Harry’s story starts. No timeline or director has been identified yet. If the films follow the Harry Potter process, they’ll make use of Warner Bros’ Leavesden studios outside London which Warner acquired and revamped after the last Potter film was shot. Warner Bros noted today that the relationship between Rowling and the studio will be managed in London by Neil Blair of Rowling’s literary agency The Blair Partnership, and by Warner UK, Ireland and Spain chief Josh Berger.

Fantastic Beasts will also be developed across Warner Bros’ video game, consumer products and digital initiatives businesses. As part of the newly extended relationship, Warner Bros has also boarded the BBC adaptation of Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy which goes into production next year. Warner will distribute the series globally, excluding the UK. A full press release on the new arrangements follows: Read More »

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J.K. Rowling’s ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ Clocks Big Sales After Author’s Identity Uncovered

Over the weekend, The Sunday Times revealed that Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling was the true author of a well-received detective novel written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The Cuckoo’s Calling had sold about … Read More »

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Warner Bros. UK Partners With BAFTA On Scholarships; Creates Training Program

Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, the film and TV facility the major owns outside of London, is to be officially inaugurated today during a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. At the same time, … Read More »

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UK’s Organic Marketing Acquires Film PR Firm Romley Davies

By | Wednesday November 28, 2012 @ 3:22am PST

Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage

The UK film publicity landscape got a little more interesting today as Organic Marketing, the agency founded in 2008 by Nick Leese, announced the acquisition of production PR specialist Romley Davies. Veteran Harry Potter unit publicist Vanessa Davies will become Organic’s executive director of film production and work with deputy managing director Emma McCorkell across production and release, in the UK and internationally. Organic has up to now specialized in release campaigns and events management. Bringing Romley Davies on board allows the company to start working on films at the production stage. “We have big ambitions and wanted to look at what made sense in terms of next steps,” McCorkell tells Deadline. “It’s a great time to get into film production in the UK, and Vanessa is the best in the business.” Read More »

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J.K. Rowling May Return To Magical World Of Harry Potter; Also Warns Of “Massive Resistance” To UK Press Reform

By | Thursday September 27, 2012 @ 6:55am PDT

The celebrated author says that she may produce “director’s cut” versions of two of her Harry Potter novels, and doesn’t rule out additional books in that world — but without Harry. When it comes to the boy wizard’s story “I’m done,” she … Read More »

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‘Hunger Games’ Trilogy Outsells Harry Potter’s 7 Books On Amazon

By | Friday August 17, 2012 @ 12:54pm PDT

Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is now Amazon’s top-selling book series of all time, outselling the seven-book Harry Potter series, the online retailer announced today. That takes both physical and e-books into consideration. Hunger Games achieved … Read More »

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British Film Institute 2011 Facts & Figures: An Average 87 Films Per Person

By | Thursday July 26, 2012 @ 4:48am PDT

Although the Harry Potter series has drawn to a close, the UK film industry believes the movies will continue to work their magic for years to come. In releasing its 2012 statistical yearbook today, the BFI pointed to long tail benefits from the Potter decade that include Warner Bros’ new studio facility at Leavesden and the skillbase the films have built across the production sector since 2001. The industry is coming off of a record year that saw the box office reach above £1B and total production spend hit £1.27B despite a drop in the number of films produced. The yearbook is loaded with such facts and figures – including the finding that Britons watched an average 87 films per person during the course of last year. However, while box office thrived, TV accounted for 77% of all film viewings. There were 5,570 unique titles available across UK television. Excluding pay-per-view, films were watched 3.9B times on TV – or over 22 times the number of cinema admissions. Stats put the industry’s direct contribution to UK GDP at £3.3B for 2010. International investment from films made in the UK including The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus and Wrath Of The Titans, was worth just over £1B. Outside the UK, British films earned $5.6B at the global box office, according to the report which can be found here in its entirety.

Independent British films had 13% of the market share driven by The King’s Speech and The Inbetweeners Movie. Cinemagoing habits are shifting with a record-breaking 42% of Britons opting for weekday screenings. Weekends only accounted for 58% of box office which is the lowest total in the last eight years. Takings for 3D films were down 20% suggesting that moviegoers are becoming more choosy. The BFI says people are more often opting for the format when they perceive a real contribution to the experience. DVD and Blu-ray sales were down 5% on 2010 with 152M units sold. VOD is on the rise, jumping 6.5% to £114M in transactions, although it hasn’t yet made up for the decline in video sales. Read More »

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Is Harry Potter The Antichrist In Alan Moore’s Latest Graphic Novel?

Alan Moore Harry PotterJK Rowling and Harry Potter studio Warner Bros have been fiercely protective of the boy who lived, so it will be interesting to see what they make of graphic novelist Alan Moore’s new book. Over the course of his career, Watchmen, V For Vendetta and From Hell author Moore has summoned fictional characters including Captian Nemo, Dr Jekyll and Dracula. He’s also had fun with Wonderland’s Alice, Oz’s Dorothy and Neverland’s Wendy. But his latest borrowing may take the cake: an Antichrist character who’s got a fair bit in common with Harry Potter — and reportedly shoots deathly lightning bolts from his nether regions. Details of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009, the latest installment in the series, have been kept close to the vest, but reviewer Laura Sneddon has provided her take on the tome that’s out this week. The boy wizard’s name never appears, but references are made to a hidden scar, a magical train between platforms at London’s King Cross Station, and the magical school to which it leads. There’s also a mentor called Riddle — although the Tom Riddle in Rowling’s books ultimately became Harry’s archnemesis, Lord Voldemort. According to The Independent, “Characters resembling both Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger also appear and, at one point, the Potter character kills someone with a lightning bolt from his flaccid penis.” Copyright infringement or acceptable parody? Rowling and Warner are expected to take a wait-and-see approach. Read More »

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Harry Potter Attraction Headed To Japan

By | Wednesday May 9, 2012 @ 4:45pm PDT

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is traveling to the land of the rising sun. Warner Bros and Universal Parks & Resorts are partnering to expand the Hogwarts experience to Universal Studios Japan. Execs involved in … Read More »

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UK Gets New Studio Facility In Black Hangar

By | Thursday May 3, 2012 @ 11:14am PDT

Black Hanger UK StudioBlack Hangar Studios — a 32,000-square-foot spread in Basingstoke, about a 40-minute train ride from London — was unveiled Wednesday. The UK is increasingly building its studio infrastructure. Warner Bros will launch the Leavesdon studios in June; that 500,000-square-foot facility, where all of the Harry Potter films were shot, is about 20 minutes from central London and has an 80-acre backlot. Also nearby London is the venerable Pinewood studios, which has recently been playing host to the latest James Bond pic Skyfall and to Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables. Read More »

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J.K. Rowling Reveals Her New “Adult” Novel: ‘The Casual Vacancy’

By | Thursday April 12, 2012 @ 10:40am PDT

Will grownups stand in line, the way young Harry Potter fans did, to be among the first to get their hands on what the author calls her “blackly comic” tale when it’s released on September 27? Rowling says on her web site that it’s her first novel for adults. Hachette will release The Casual Vacancy in the US, with Little, Brown Book Group doing so in the UK. It will be published worldwide in English in hardback, ebook, an unabridged audio download and on CD.  The book runs about 480 pages, according to Little, Brown. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of seven books sold over 450 million copies in 200 territories and 74 languages worldwide, spawning a pop culture gold mine and a lucrative movie franchise from Warner Bros. Here’s Rowling’s synopsis of her new book:

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Warner Bros UK Opens Harry Potter Tour

By | Saturday March 31, 2012 @ 6:58am PDT

Now that Harry has hung up his Firebolt, Warner is looking to keep the multi-billion dollar franchise alive. Welcome to The Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making Of Harry Potter, a new attraction that opens today at its Leavesden studios in Watford, England. There, Muggles will get a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes magic of the films right where they were shot. As time wears on, however, it’s likely that interest in Potter will wane – but Warner says there’s a plan for that too.

When Warner Bros acquired film rights to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, lore has it the author insisted on an all-British cast and that all films be shot in the UK. Ten years later, the highest-grossing film series in history has had a huge impact on the British economy – and on Warner Bros’ bottom line. In June 2010, London mayor Boris Johnson penned an editorial in The Telegraph decrying the fact that a Potter theme park was to open in Orlando rather than in Harry’s own backyard. He wrote: “This Potter business has legs. It will run and run, and we must be utterly mad, as a country, to leave it to the Americans to make money from a great British invention.”

Fast-forward 18 months and Johnson was waving a wand at Ollivander’s shop on the Potter tour’s Diagon Alley. A coincidence? Warner’s Sarah Roots, VP of the tour, tells me the idea of a film based attraction at the Leavesden studios has been in the pipeline for quite a few years and that Harry Potter has been such a part of the studio’s heritage, “it made sense to launch the attraction with Harry Potter.” The opening of the tour is timed to coincide with the start of Easter break for British school kids. Warner is eyeing up to 5,000 visitors per day on staggered tours that last about 3 hours. Roots says tickets for the first period have sold well and that first visitors are expected to be mostly UK residents with more overseas interest next year. As with all tourist destinations in the UK this summer, Warner is hoping for a residual Olympics effect. Read More »

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‘Harry Potter’ Books Finally Available In E-Book And Audio Formats

By | Tuesday March 27, 2012 @ 1:30pm PDT

Just ahead of the planned early April launch of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s full Pottermore site for all things Hogwarts, e-book and audio book versions of all seven Harry Potter books were made available today on the site. … Read More »

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‘Harry Potter’ Author J.K. Rowling To Go Adult With New Novel

By | Thursday February 23, 2012 @ 12:08pm PST

The Harry Potter series made author J.K. Rowling one of Britain’s richest citizens and now the writer is ready to tread new literary territory with her new book geared toward adults. Publication for the new novel and further details … Read More »

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