Harry Potter actor and mixed martial artist Dave Legeno died this week in California’s Death Valley in a suspected heat-related incident, according to a report from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department. He was 50. The British thesp/athlete had starred as werewolf Fenrir Greyback in Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Parts 1 and 2 and played Broch in Snow White And The Huntsman. Legeno’s body was found Sunday morning by hikers and airlifted out of a remote section of Death Valley near Zabriskie Point, where temperatures can reach as high as 120 degrees. The Inyo County Sheriff’s Department reported no signs of foul play. Legano started his career with a role in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch (2000) and also appeared in Batman Begins, Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Centurion, and The Raven.
Writing as gossip columnist Rita Skeeter at Pottermore.com (registration required), JK Rowling has brought the Hogwarts band back together. In doing so, she also evidently crashed the site for a while. When I took a look a little bit ago, all was fine, but it just asked me to “come back later and try again.” In a 1,500 word piece that appears in the Daily Prophet section of the site, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are gathered together with their families and other old cohorts attending the final of the Quidditch World Cup 2014 — magical timing just ahead of the final of the (Muggle) World Cup in Brazil next weekend. This is the first time Rowling has written new material about the beloved characters since the last book was published seven years ago. There are also a series of match reports and articles about the wizarding sport’s tournament, all penned by Rowling. Back in March, the author posted the first part of her History of the Quidditch World Cup on the site that is the official digital platform for all things Potter.
Mild spoiler alert below:
Today, Rowling (as the vicious Skeeter) writes that as Harry approaches 34, he has “threads of silver” in his black hair, and also sports a mysterious cut over his cheekbone. Rita deduces it has been inflicted as part of his top-secret career as an Auror, …
NBCU’s ‘Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ Enlists The Roots To Plug Universal Theme Park Attraction: Video
Is there a limit to how much NBCU promotion The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon fans will swallow? Fallon’s been doing his show this week from Universal Orlando Resort — already he’s made roller-coaster-phobic Kevin Hart ride one at the resort in exchange for plugging Hart’s new movie, Think Like A Man Too. Last night Fallon plucked a “viewer” note from his Suggestion Box: “I Love the Harry Potter theme, but I also love rap. Is there any way you can combine the two?” The Universal resort’s new Harry Potter/Diagon Alley reportedly cost an estimated $256 million. Fallon’s in-house band, The Roots, got to work. Sigh. Watch here:
Rupert Grint, best known as Ron Weasley — the one who, for better or worse, got to marry Hermione at the end of the 8-part Harry Potter film franchise, will make his Broadway debut this fall in a starry revival of Terrence McNally’s backstage comedy, It’s Only A Play. “I’m thrilled to be making my Broadway debut alongside this amazing cast and creative team,” Grint said, not unexpectedly.
In the show, he will play hot stage director Frank Finger opposite a cast that includes F. Murray Abraham, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally and tyro Micah Stock. Director is Jack O’Brien, whose staging of the Bard’s Much Ado About Nothing opened let night at Central Parks Delacorte Theatre to excellent reviews.
It’s Only A Play will play a limited 17-week engagement at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, with an opening night set for Thursday, October 9. The show unfolds on opening night of Peter Austin’s (Broderick) new play as he anxiously awaits to see if his show is a hit. Present are his best friend, a television star (Lane), his fledgling producer (Mullally), his erratic leading lady (Channing), his director (Grint), a nasty drama critic (Abraham), and a fresh-off-the-bus coat check attendant (Stock) on his first night in Manhattan. The producers are Tom Kirdahy, Roy Furman, and Ken Davenport. Grint is repped by Gersh, 360, Hamilton-Hodell and Sloan, Offer Weber & Dern LLP.
Some sports nuts have the World Cup – others have the Quidditch World Cup, in which top collegiate athletes compete in a version of the high-flying sport Harry Potter plays in J.K. Rowling‘s fantasy wizarding world. The bludgers, quaffles, and golden snitches come to life in documentary Mudbloods, which tracks the resilient underdogs of the UCLA Quidditch team as they battle their way to the Fifth Annual Quidditch World Cup in New York City. Film is directed by UCLA alumnus Farzad Sangari, who picked up on the emerging club sport after glimpsing “Muggle quidditch” in action on campus. Bond/360, the distro arm launched by Bond Strategy and Influence last year, will release Mudbloods theatrically and on VOD in October. Previous Bond/360 releases include Particle Fever, Sign Painters, and Dessert Runners.
“Mudbloods gives audiences a glimpse into a growing collegiate sport that was inspired by the preeminent cultural touchstone of our generation…Harry Potter,” said Amanda Lebow, Director of Film Strategy for BOND/360. “Farzad Sangari is a talented up-and-coming filmmaker with a remarkable humanistic touch. We couldn’t be more pleased for BOND/360 to be sharing this film with the world.” Mudbloods will first premiere at AFI DOCS on June 21 before it opens digitally and in limited release this fall.
Q&A: Producer Colin Callender On His Next Chapter, Converging Theater, Film & Television And Taking On Harry Potter
Colin 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.
LONDON, 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.
Roger 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. He was 69. Lloyd-Pack played the slow-witted road sweeper Colin “Trigger” Ball on long-running BBC One sitcom Only Fools And Horses. He also played farmer Owen Newitt in the Richard Curtis-created BBC series The Vicar Of Dibley. The actor’s feature career included turns in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, in which he took on the part of Bartemius “Barty” Crouch, Sr, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Born in North London in 1944, Lloyd was the son of Charles Lloyd-Pack who appeared in several Hammer horror films. He was also the father of actress Emily Lloyd. Lloyd-Pack studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and later appeared in episodes of The Avengers and other series. His bigscreen debut was in 1968′s The Magus which starred Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn and Candice Bergen. In 1981, Lloyd-Pack was cast in his break-out role in Only Fools And Horses. He also did guest shots on The Bill, Poirot, Doctor Who and The Borgias among many other series. In 2012 and 2013, he returned to the stage appearing in productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night.
Harry 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.
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.
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:
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 1,500 hardback copies since its April release, but when Rowling’s identity was revealed on Sunday, the book raced to the top of sales charts on Barnes & Noble and Amazon in both the U.S. and the UK. By Monday afternoon European time, the hardcover edition was listed as “temporarily out of stock” on both U.S. sites. The detective novel centers on war veteran Cormoran Strike who turns private investigator after losing a leg in Afghanistan. He’s barely scraping by when he’s asked to look into the death of a legendary supermodel. Rowling told The Times she’d hoped “to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.” The book was published in the UK by Little Brown’s Sphere, also the publisher of Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy which is being made into a BBC series. In the U.S., Little Brown imprint Mulholland says it will publish a second book in the series next summer and that The Cuckoo’s Calling is being reprinted, The Wall Street Journal reported.
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, and in partnership with BAFTA, the studio is announcing the Prince William Scholarships in Film, Television and Games. Three students per year will receive £10,000 to study a post-graduate course. The studio is also setting up a new training program which it will launch in September. Warner Bros. Creative Talent will include 12 scholarships; six apprenticeships and two trainee positions on every Warner Bros. film produced in the UK; 25 training course spots at theater company Chickenshed; 20 work experience placements; and five work placements on Sam Mendes’ upcoming West End musical, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Warner says the program is part of its “long-term commitment to the UK’s creative industries.” The studio has been in business in the UK for many years and most lucratively with the Harry Potter films, all of which were shot at Leavesden. Warner purchased the facility outright in 2010 and invested £100M in its expansion. It also houses The Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making Of Harry Potter, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movies that’s housed just next to the main lot.
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.”
J.K. Rowling May Return To Magical World Of Harry Potter; Also Warns Of “Massive Resistance” To UK Press Reform
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 tells the BBC in an interview to promote her new novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy. “I just think it would be for the sake of milking it and that’s just not in me.” That includes a Potter prequel or sequel. “I’ve never seen it work well in either literature or film.” Nevertheless, she says that “if I did have a great idea for something else” in the universe she created then “I probably would do it.” She’s also mulling the possibility of tidying up some of her Potter novels that she believes “needed another year” of work. “There’s one towards the beginning and there’s one towards the end, that I definitely felt that about. I had to write on the run and there were times when it was really tough. And I read them, and I think ‘Oh God, maybe I’ll go back and do a director’s cut.’ I don’t know.”
Rowling also reiterated the concerns she raised last year against the possibly illegal tactics that UK tabloid reporters use to violate celebrities’ privacy. “I can’t put an invisibility cloaking device over my house, nor do I wish to,” she told a government inquiry into press …
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 its Amazon milestone with three books over four years compared with J.K. Rowling’s seven over the course of well beyond a decade. Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games movie version of Collins’ first book that opened March 23, 2012 took in $407.4 million domestically and another $277.1 million overseas. The second part, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is slated to open November 22, 2013. The final book Mockingjay will be filmed in two parts. The eight movies based on the seven Potter books grossed $7.7 billion worldwide (unadjusted for inflation or currency fluctuations). Another top-seller planned for movification is E.L. James’ Fifty Shades Of Grey which has three books out, all of which are currently at or near the top of Amazon’s sales lists and all three books occupy the top 3 slots of the New York Times combined print and e-book fiction and paperback trade fiction sales lists. Producers Mike De Luca and Dana are shepherding Fifty Shades for Focus Features/Universal Pictures.
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.
JK 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.
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 the planning pledge Osaka attraction will be just as magical as the one at Universal Orlando Resort. Warner Bros also recently opened the Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making Of Harry Potter. As in Orlando, Universal predicted the Osaka attraction would bring significant increases in tourism, jobs and economic benefit to Japan. The new attraction will be similar to the one in Florida and will include Hogwarts castle, Hogsmeade and multiple themed attractions, according to Universal Parks. Stuart Craig, production designer for all the Potter movies, will be closely involved with planning and building the Osaka park, which is expected to open in late 2014.