Parting is such sweet sorrow (there will be spoilers for the last few Harry Potter films)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was a wonderfully creative film with a more unique look due to a new director. But the film franchise always had the same set of Producers, and thank goodness for that. They were the real shepherds to make sure Rowling’s story stayed the course. After all, this series of stories was turning into an epic tale of good versus evil, and there were character arcs to maintain, bits that had to be dropped in to earlier films so that they could pay off in later films. When Dobby first showed up, didn’t you wonder if he was just going to be another Jar Jar Binks? Who knew that he’d be so important to the story later on, or that you’d cry at the end of Deathly Hallows part 1 when he dies? But we also had to have knowledge of the basis of the Horcruxes and the qualities of the Sword of Gryffindor and learn about Polyjuice potion and dueling and the Room of Requirement too. So Prisoner of Azkaban was followed by the Goblet of Fire, and we get our first death and our first indication of the seriousness of this epic battle in the making. We were now getting the type of high drama we’d gotten in the Lord of the Rings. This was followed by Order of the Phoenix, and another high profile death, coupled with a really spectacular duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort.
And somewhere between Order of the Phoenix and the release of the Half-Blood Prince, word came that The Hobbit was going to be made. But it was running into some troubles, financial troubles. Thanks goodness Warner Bros. was able to step in after New Line fell by the wayside, and thank goodness for Harry Potter creating an environment where Fantasy was still hip, and still financially viable, enough so as to afford investment in revisiting Middle-earth. So the Hobbit moves into the development stage, and Half-Blood Prince gets released. With this film, we got more history, and more answers to the puzzle of the big villain of the piece, but then we lose Dumbledore before he can really instruct Harry on what was to come next. Well, next came more troubles for The Hobbit getting off the ground. Suffice it to say this production has hit just about every brick wall between Wellington and Hollywood, and its continued existence can be traced to Warner Bros. really wanting to get this project going. Why? Because the Harry Potter franchise was going to come to an end, and what better to follow it with than the only other really popular Fantasy film franchise that everyone loved and would like to revisit?
So now we are in 2010 and The Hobbit has been in unofficial pre-production for 2 years and continued delays lead to losing our first director, Guillermo Del Toro. By the end of summer, we finally have a new Director, Peter Jackson returning to Middle-earth, and we get our official Green Light. And just as casting announcements begin, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1, opens. The end is near for this franchise, but the torch is finally able to be passed to the next franchise, which is part of the old franchise, if you follow my meaning there. Harry Potter fans are thrilled with the first half of the story, and somewhat trepidatious about the end of all things Potter. And with the lead up to the release of Deathly Hallows part 2, Warner Bros. releases a series of images from The Hobbit of the Company of 13 Dwarves. Can there be any other way to interpret this other than to think that Warner Bros. is saying goodbye to the Boy who Lived, by saying hello to The Hobbit? Harry Potter has kept magic alive on the big screen for the past 7 years and now it’s time to pass the wand back to Middle-earth.
So farewell to Harry, and Ron and Hermione, faithful companions to each other, and to Fantasy film fans everywhere. And farewell to Middle-earth’s constant companion lo these many years. One film franchise takes its final bow, with numerous curtain calls if the opening weekend box office is anything to go by, and another film franchise dusts off its traveling cloak and gets ready for its first appearance.