Harry Potter is perhaps one of the biggest transmedia franchises today. First, there was an idea, which led to a seven-book series. Then came the movies, releasing between book releases, and the video games that came along with the movies. In the Summer of 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Amusement Park had its Grand Opening, with Pottermore opening up for beta testing a year later. Pottermore’s arrival also coincided with the release date of the final movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. In addition to the canon, there are several fan fiction sites dedicated to the characters of Harry Potter. Fans dedicate themselves to shaking up what they know about their characters
Spreadability vs. Drillability
The content of Harry Potter is made available pretty well, through the amount of books printed, as well as movies, video games, etc. on the market. For those who aren’t able to get the books, Pottermore provides an excellent second option, where registration is free and you can also purchase the eBooks (finally). Pottermore also provides an extensive amount of extra information to allow for fans to “geek out” and explore the story. More on that later. In addition to Pottermore, fans are welcome to dig for more beyond what’s provided by official products, such as the books, movies, games, Pottermore. For example, fans all over the world actually play Quidditch (on the ground) and not just for fun either. There are colleges who have legitimate quidditch teams, including LSU, Texas A&M, and Harvard.
Continuity vs. Multiplicity
The story for the most part, is pretty consistent throughout medias. There is orphaned Harry with glasses, a lightning-shaped scar, and a fated enemy. He has two best friends, Ron and Hermione, goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and has a reputation (The Boy Who Lived) that precedes himself. However, there are some liberties being taken in fan fiction sites that have become the norm. For example, characters Hermione and Draco are often “shipped,” although they never have any romantic (or friendly, for that matter) relationship in the canon. There are even essays on the plausibility of Dramione.
Immersion vs. Extractability
Luckily, fans get to extract items from HP and immerse themselves into the world of HP with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park. The people of Universal Studios in Orlando teamed up with author J.K. Rowling to create Hogsmeade, a village outside of Hogwarts, as well as parts of the Hogwarts castle. In addition, the shops in Hogsmeade, featured in the Harry Potter series, are also available for fans to shop and buy a wand that chooses the wizard, chocolate frogs, and a butterbeer, all exclusive to the HP world.
In addition to fanfiction, A Very Potter Musical is a great example of worldbuilding. This musical is a fan-made musical, retelling the story with exaggerated songs and depictions of characters. Another exaggerated, almost satirical, worldbuilding remix of HP comes also in the form of YouTube videos: Potter Puppet Pals. Both VPM and PPP provide a humorous, yet at times, deeper look into the events of Harry Potter. For example, a video from PPP titled “Wizard Angst” plays on Harry’s emotions from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Harry is angry and depressed for the majority of the book. In the video, Harry says, “I feel cranky and pubescent today, and I don’t know why. I’m going to take it out on people I like.”
With Pottermore, J.K. Rowling did something that nobody saw coming. She essentially took the idea of writing an Encyclopedia, filled with extra information she had written about the characters, places, wizarding items, and made Pottermore. In addition to being sorted into a Hogwarts House by the Sorting Hat and giving you a special wand just for you, Pottermore provides backstory on HP things nobody knew about. So while Rowling has given countless interviews, hinting at small details, such as a character’s unknown sexuality or reasons for killing/saving a character, readers can now know everything, little by little. (I suspect she did this so that we don’t go into information overload). Not only is this cool because, hello, it’s free, but because Rowling has opened doors on just how storytelling (and story writing) is done. The video, doesn’t even begin to cover it, because how do you explain to people that what you’ve done is revolutionary?
The HP movies countlessly provide different points of view throughout the entire series, but there is a particular scene in Deathly Hallows Part One that I think of. I won’t spoil it, for those who haven’t read/watched HP (Looking at you, Rish), but there is an opening scene providing short clips of how different characters are preparing for a journey. While this particular part is talked about in the book, readers weren’t given a narrative. Just a brief, I-did-this sort of thing told by the character. With fans being able to actually see the scene happening, they get another side while also knowing just what happened. There are also several scenes throughout the movie series not seen in the book series, either because Rowling provided extra ideas or the movie production company took a few liberties. The fan-based jury is still out on whether or not this was a good idea to include scenes that don’t come close to what occurred in the book. And that leads us to Performance.
While Potter Puppet Pals and A Very Potter Musical are fan produced performances, they don’t actually influence the core narrative. However, the movies have in some way influenced Rowling. For example, in several interviews, Rowling has said that the depiction of character Luna Lovegood by Avanna Lynch completely took her by surprise. When Rowling wrote after seeing Lynch’s performance, she began to see Lynch (as Luna) in her mind. Also, there is a part in the book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where a Professor, having mistaken Ron’s name countless times, calls him Rupert. For those of you who don’t know, the actor who played Ron Weasley is Rupert Grint. It’s a small influence, but nevertheless, very cool.