It’s been nearly thirteen years since the release of the Deathly Hallows book, and nearly nine since the release of the Deathly Hallows Part 2 film. And we keep rewatching the films and hope to someday have a Netflix series. I want to discuss this, and plot-points from my case study, so spoilers for the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket franchises are in this post!
We only have to look at Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events to know that a solid Netflix adaptation is entirely possible and successful – it is a 13-part novel series, and the first three were loosely adapted into a film. It had more recently been adapted as a 3-season Netflix series, to resounding success. I personally have only read the first three books, but they were so memorable that even years after having read them last, I still remembered odd little details that the Netflix series adapted, whereas the film adaptation, while attempting to stay relatively true to the books, still had moments where it did not keep to the source (for example, the wedding of Count Olaf and Violet took place at the end of the film, rather than before their adoption by Montgomery Montgomery).
While I enjoyed the film adaptation, I remember being even more absorbed by the Netflix adaptation, as it included a lot of tidbits that were in the books, that I remembered fondly.
Harry Potter being adapted into a Netflix series would bring an entirely new audience to the series, and would reinvigorate the franchise that even I have to admit is like beating a dead horse at this point in time. I’m sure J.K. Rowling would love to get in on a Netflix series, and so would the floods of fans that even though they own the DVD box set, still clamour around the TV when it comes on ITV every year. Even when the fake poster was created to spark rumours of a Netflix series came out (see featured image), everyone went nuts! So I think it’d be a worthwhile investment for them to reboot the franchise, as it were.
The biggest advantage would be that all of the plot details would be able to fit into a Netflix series. J.K. Rowling inserted a lot of foreshadowing in her books to round off Deathly Hallows, and it was a joy to re-read after finishing – for example, Ron predicting there would be a war soon as mentioned in Order of the Phoenix, and the importance of Regulus Black (which I noted after reading Half-Blood Prince that the initials ‘RAB’ could belong to Regulus Black – and I was right, surprisingly). I think the importance of foreshadowing is important to get right in film and/or TV, because my favourite film of all-time, Fight Club, uses foreshadowing that isn’t apparent until the second time viewing.
Another advantage is that the visual-heavy scenes would also get their moments in the spotlight – Quidditch, duels, anything with special effects! We missed out on the expanse and atmosphere of the Quidditch World Cup in the Goblet of Fire, as well as a lot of the beasts in the maze from the same adaptation. It would also bring more depths to Cedric Diggory and Cho Chang respectively, who were both given their spotlight in different points in the books, but were left bland and almost lifeless in the films.
Another advantage would be the lack of a convenient recasting of characters. In the early films, Kathleen Cauley was cast as Lavender Brown in Chamber of Secrets, while Jennifer Smith was cast in the same role, but in Prisoner of Azkaban. Neither of these were speaking roles, but when it came for Lavender’s chance in the spotlight in Half-Blood Prince, she was portrayed by Jessie Cave. Now, this seems fine, except the film-makers came under criticism for casting a white actress in a role that was previously held by two black actresses beforehand in non-speaking roles. I mention this because, in the books, Lavender has dialogue in (I think) all of the books, so having an adaptation that was closely linked to the books would encourage the casting director to consider long-term plans for the characters, especially when all of the source material is released.
Ron Weasley has been highlighted over and over as being a buffoon in the films, when in the books, he is highly intelligent when it comes to the Wizarding World, and is essentially Harry and Hermione’s gateway to introduce them to all different aspects – I mean, Ron teaches Harry about Quidditch on the train, and is super-eager about it – bless Ron.
The final advantage would be whole side-plots, such as Hermione’s S.P.E.W. campaign, more insight over the Half-Blood Prince instead of a couple of giveaway comments, not to mention Peeves (may Rik Mayall rest in peace). These are just some of the things that would have been great as additions to bring more character development, so they don’t feel as one-note.
The main drawback I can foresee is bringing back previous actors to reprise their roles. It is unfortunately impossible to bring back Alan Rickman (may he rest in peace) for his role as Severus Snape, and we all know he would have done a fantastic job reprising his role for a Netflix series. It cannot be confirmed whether the old cast would be willing to reprise their roles in the Netflix series as they did the films. Not only this, a lot of people would end up comparing the original and Netflix actors, and that’s an inevitability.
Another drawback would be the quality of child acting. It’s one thing for a child to look the part, but then they need to be able to act the part. In the early film adaptations, the acting was wooden at best, but that’s to do with the lack of acting experience for these kids.
I also think that a lot of universe-building that J.K. Rowling has been doing over the years needs to have some semblance of continuity and structure, rather than having something become canon for the sake of it. After all, we know how badly the story of Cursed Child tanked.
The one question that’s on everyone’s lips – what ethnicity would Hermione be, considering the very controversial casting of Noma Dumezweni in the role in the Cursed Child production? My stance on the casting is as long as they’re great in the role, I don’t care who’s cast as Hermione, as long as they’re good.
Scenes That Would Benefit Greatly
All of the Quidditch scenes would be handled greatly, especially the Quidditch World Cup. In the original Goblet of Fire film, we cut from the start of the match to the celebration inside the Weasley tent after the match. It would have been great to see the Veela in action, as well as the great Seeker Viktor Krum – he’s celebrated in the movie, but we don’t see that in action.
I also feel that, like the films, there would be spectacular magic duels, such as the one in the Department of Mysteries in Order of the Phoenix. I’m positive that they would have a lot of care put into them, considering they’ll be longer due to the average Netflix show run times.
Also, I would hope that any scene with Ginny Weasley would be improved. I was disappointed when the book Ginny was an absolute badass that you could inspire to be, but film Ginny was just…bland, awkward, and just not worth watching at all.
Scenes That Would Not Benefit/Need To Be Told Differently
Honestly, I think any scene that becomes an exposition dump will suffer here. When I was younger, I wasn’t keen on the huge exposition dump in Prisoner of Azkaban, in discussion about Sirius Black, Remus Lupin’s secret and the Secret Keeper angle. We also have Barty Crouch Jr’s back-story in Goblet of Fire. The exposition way of storytelling would not work in a Netflix adaptation, which should instead give way to flashback scenes of the history instead of exposition. We saw this demonstrated with the Tale of the Three Brothers segment in Deathly Hallows Part 1, where there was this stunning animated segment to overlap Hermione’s telling of the story. I’d like to keep that stylised animation for this scene, at the very least.
The Future Of The Franchise
A Netflix adaptation would surely lead the way to other spin-offs, such as a Marauder’s era story, or perhaps a reboot of Cursed Child as, let’s be honest here, the plot wasn’t great (or even just retcon it?).
But I want to know what you think could be next for the Harry Potter franchise!