Bonus – Live at Leviosa in Las Vegas!

A few weeks ago, Kat, Eric, and Alison held a special live Alohomora! episode panel at Leviosa in Las Vegas. With the release of Cursed Child and the upcoming premiere of Fantastic Beasts, as well as the plethora of information we are receiving on Pottermore and Twitter lately, we decided to tackle a more serious and speculative topic: the commercialization of Harry Potter.

On this special bonus episode we discuss…

→ Has the brand lost touch with the fandom?
→ The Global Franchise Development team
→ From story and passion to business
→ How much is Jo controlling?
→ Fantastic Beasts and the Script No One Wants
→ What amount of blame does the fandom need to take?

To listen to the show, simply click the player below or direct download the episode. You can also subscribe to us on iTunes. For more information about the podcast and to find out how to be on the show, check out our Be On The Show! page.

Don’t forget to send us an Audioboom, or Skype users can also send us a message to username AlohomoraMN. And as always, be sure to continue the discussion below or on our Forums!

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  • hp481516

    I love the concept behind this episode! It is something we need to be talking about as Harry Potter fans.

    I thought the theory that JKR is doing all this so she can make more money to give away to charity was really interesting. However, why wouldn’t she then have her proceeds for Cursed Child, for example, go directly to charity? I think it could be a security thing. Since she went through that period of her life where she was really poor, she is afraid of being worried about money again–even if logic tells her she does not need to worry about that. So even if she does plan to get money and then give most of it away to charity, earning that money initially gives her a sense of security.

    Still, I’m not entirely convinced that this is for money, at least for Jo. JKR (and the whole Potter franchise) would make more money if the content they were putting out was actually done with passion and authenticity, as you all pointed out. Although I don’t suspect the Global Franchise Development Team realizes that.

  • buckbeak is my spirit animal

    I feel like a lot of this panel was just grumbling about change and possibly being left behind. The world is different now and there are so many more ways to get information and that relates to Harry Potter, too. Rowling doesn’t have to rely on fansites anymore to get information out to her biggest fans. She has Twitter. I think it’s naive to believe that Rowling wouldn’t change anything about the way she delivers content and I think it’s also naive to think that corporations and money haven’t always been in the game.

    You guys made some interesting points about authenticity, though. I can definitely see what you’re saying about the content that has been coming out. I actually really like the new Pottermore. Everything she has released has been pretty awesome and I’m SO excited for Fantastic Beasts. I definitely understand what you meant about the “Magic in North America” writing, but she was covering thousands of years of history in a few thousand words. She was just channeling Binns.

    I think Potter has just moved into its next stage and we have to follow along, or not. WB is after another generation and we can go along for the ride, or we can complain about how it isn’t at good as it used to be, or she’s just selling out. The thing with Potter, though, is that you can just seclude yourself with the books and be completely happy for the rest of you life. I love the idea of getting to participate, again, in the the new stuff Rowling is creating. Even if it doesn’t feel the same as it used to, it’s still part of the world that I love so much.

    I think we’re a pretty spoiled and entitled fan-base. Think about Star Wars. After the original movies came out, they were novelized and then SO MUCH extended universe stuff came out. Who even knows what canon was? Star Wars had to produce a policy about what fit into the canon. Then when new stuff started coming out, they had to backtrack over 20 years of materials that already existed. That isn’t uncommon to other fan-bases (think DC and Marvel, Star Trek). We’re so lucky to have Rowling around to give us content, from the one source… her.

    We don’t deserve this stuff. We’re just so greedy and enthusiastic that she gives it to us. I have loved pretty much everything that’s come out lately, and I’m super excited to see what’s next. I feel really lucky that I’m still a part of such an excited, active fandom, and that the goddess herself is still a part of it, too.

    • Lisa

      I agree with you. I understand the need for the content to feel authentic and passionate but I think a discussion on Rowling’s motives for creating new work will always be speculative. I prefer to look at what comes out and judge it for what it is regardless of her reasons for creating it.

      I can understand the fear that the Potterverse will become like one of those tv shows that just doesn’t know when to call it quits. It’s very likely that that will happen, unfortunately. Many people already think that she should have stopped after book seven. I don’t know much about Star Wars but I think the advantage of such a franchise is that everyone is free to indulge in the stuff they like and ignore the stuff they don’t like. I hope this will be the case for Potter too. JKR’s version will always be the official one but as long as there are heads there will be head canons (and fics). It’s nice to know that the story is still alive even if it will never be the same as when the books first came out. The concept of canon is likely to become more and more outdated and fluid considering how many new stuff are coming out. CC is a play, Fantastic Beasts is a film trilogy, Pottermore is a website, etc. Different mediums and different stories, no longer just about Harry’s journey. As long as fans respect each others’ opinions and don’t shove anything down anybody’s throat, the HP fandom will be a nice place. Unfortunately, lately the negativity is taking over and somewhat ruins at least my HP experience. :/

  • Thunderdor

    This episode inspired me to write a blog about the growing pains a business experiences through the eyes of The brand that is Harry Potter for my company. I think it’s a classic case of trying to be everything to everyone and losing the emotional connection with your core target audience. The hiring of brand managers was probably a good move. They needed to do it before cursed child though.

  • Phoenix

    Hey Alohomora team! Have you thought about trying to invite someone from that Global Franchise Development for an interview? I think that would be a great opportunity for us to hear from those people themselves, to find out who they are, what they actually do and what their plans are. For them, it would be an opprtunity to get their message out to a lot of fans/customers. Win-win!

  • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

    Just listened to this episode and wanted to pat the hosts on the back for a well chosen, timely topic and smart, thoughtful discussion. The topic resonated with me because I’ve been struggling with emerging feelings of disenchantment about the commercialization (or whatever we want to term it) of HP/WW, as well as a similar phenomenon potentially happening or poised to happen with another fandom that I care about.

    The discussion did not sound to me like complaining or negativity. I found it to be well reasoned and nuanced. This is an important conversation to have, because it’s about being a critical consumer of media. Yes, we should be grateful to Jo for creating and giving us this world, but it’s not necessary to be grateful for everything a marketing team shoves at you and take it all at face value without pausing to ask questions. We can mindfully participate in the new developments while still enjoying them.

    Some might argue that popularity ruins everything eventually, and ’twas ever thus. I don’t think that’s true historically but it might be the new reality in these times.

    I am still thinking through the particulars of all this, but thanks for a thought-provoking discussion.

  • Abi

    I found this episode really interesting. I’m 34 and started reading the books when they came out – (I was 15) – and have been watching the recent developments with curiosity. I’m wondering if some of the *timing* (at least with Cursed Child) is to do with the 20th anniversary of the first book next year. I have always tried (not always succeeded) at separating the books from the movies to a certain extent – I think the eight HP movies are fantastic and as good adaptations as could be (although I have some reservations over portrayal of the characters, by the script writers – the cast were outstanding). With the Fantastic Beasts release I will see it as a separate entity. Although when I first heard this was coming out I was a little skeptical – for me it was first real signs that I felt the HP world was going to become a wider universe and commercialised. I know – it’s been massively commercialised, but until now, I felt it has been about the seven key novels. I think in a few years, they will be just part of a huge universe – the ‘Wizarding World’ that is now being developed.

    As for the Cursed Child, I am still yet to get tickets (despite hours of queuing!) but I can imagine that the play is the best medium to experience it. I read the screen play and took it as a separate entity from the books, but accepted it for what it was. I think bringing part of the story to the stage is a wonderful idea. However, my reservation is similar to those mentioned in the episode that this started as something that *all* people could access – books. The wonderful pastime that is open to all, that holds no discrimination and that all of us – as can be seen in the fandom – can enjoy and share with one another. I worry if the world of HP may become restricted to some (ticket prices and availability) which of course it never was before. But perhaps I am being over fussy – it was released as a script, after all. I have huge admiration for Rowling, as we all do. She has been a huge inspiration in my life. I believe her desire to develop these projects is to help gain more money for charity work and to help people share in the world she has created.

    However, as the ‘first generation’ of fans – I can empathise and understand the feelings of being left behind a little – when something becomes much bigger it can feel like that. For me, I believe there is a tidal change – the Pottermore website has indeed highlighted that. I don’t mind it too much – I have quite liked exploring it, although I take on everyones comments about the changes and difficulty to find some things on the site. My partner likes Star Wars – and comparisons about the format of universe building has been compared to that franchise. He said he can see the Wizarding World going the same way. He doesn’t like all of Star Wars extensions – he takes what he likes and leaves what he doesn’t. I suspect that will happen to me. For instance, I feel the screenplay of FB is hard to look like anything but profit driven. I remember seeing the Titanic screenplay – the only other movie screenplay I’ve seen published. This was, however, after the movie went huge around the world and was published more as a reaction to the huge success. However, I have already pre-booked my tickets to see the FB movie and as it’s written by JKR, I have a feeling I’ll love it.

    I really appreciate the comments about authenticity and passion. I hope that it remains in the output but only time will tell. Perhaps the lessons from these developments are – take what you like from it, leave the rest for fans of other generations to enjoy- particularly those who are experiencing it for the first time in a rather different time than when the first book was published.

    As always, loving this podcast – thank you for all you do!!