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Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan to open July 15, 2014

Above: WWoHP - Orlando rendering, via Orlando Attractions

Above: WWoHP – Orlando rendering, via Orlando Attractions

Universal Studios announced Friday that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan will open July 15, 2014.

With foreign dignitaries and stars from the Harry Potter films in attendance, Universal made the announcement from their theme park in Osaka, Japan.

Recently, Universal announced that the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood would be opening in 2016. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley expansion at Universal Orlando is set to opening this summer as well, but does not have a definite opening date.

We’ll keep you updated with the latest news on the theme parks as it comes.

Press release:

Universal Studios Japan Announces “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” Grand Opening on July 15, 2014

April 18, 2014, Osaka, Japan – Universal Studios Japan hosted an event today, to celebrate the announcement of the Grand Opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” which meticulously recreates some of the iconic locations from the world of Harry Potter. Universal Studios Japan revealed that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will open on July 15, 2014. The announcement culminated with the unveiling of the magnificent Hogwarts castle, the focal point of the land.

Universal Studios Japan welcomed special guests from Japan and around the globe: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; Ms. Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan; Academy Award®-winning art director and production designer for the Harry Potter films, Stuart Craig; actress Evanna Lynch, who played “Luna Lovegood” in the Harry Potter film series; world-renowned architect Tadao Ando; and Universal Studios Japan ambassadors, and beloved musical act, SMAP, gathered for the celebration.

When Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy announced the opening date, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a spectacular show of lights and brilliant fireworks.

“We cannot wait for the July 15 opening. ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ will be a wonderful addition to Universal Studios Japan and will contribute to energizing Osaka and the local economy,” said Prime Minister Abe.

“It’s wonderful to be here tonight to celebrate another dimension of the United States-Japan alliance,” said Ambassador Kennedy. “Harry Potter inspired a generation of children to love reading?and when they are not reading, I hope they come to ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.’”

Event Overview

The evening’s celebration began with an “owl” delivering a letter from Hogwarts to President and CEO of Universal Studios Japan, Mr. Glenn Gumpel, who was revealed on stage with the letter in hand to introduce the honored guests.

Guests Evanna Lynch, Stuart Craig, Tadao Ando and SMAP were greeted on stage with loud cheers, and the appearance of United States Ambassador Kennedy was met with thunderous applause.

With distinguished guests from around the world gathered, Mr. Gumpel presented the letter from the wizarding world to Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy, who together, reading from the letter, announced “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opening date. At that moment, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a radiant light show with fireworks, which unveiled its towering scale and lit up the night sky.

Following additional remarks by Prime Minister Abe, Ms. Evanna Lynch led the guests in casting the spell “Lumos!” followed by more dazzling fireworks to the further the excitement and joy of the crowd.

A special website, where you can begin to explore “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” online, has now launched. Please visit www.usj.co.jp/harrypotter in the official Universal Studios Japan website.

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J.K. Rowling publishes “live” reports of Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore

qwc2014picIn continuation with their efforts to build excitement around the 2014 Quidditch World Cup, today Pottermore published two new “live” reports of the Cup, written by J.K. Rowling.

The two entries are being billed as articles from the the wizarding world’s leading newspaper, the Daily Prophet, and written by Ginny Potter (formerly Weasley), the Prophet‘s Quidditch Correspondent in Patagonian desert, where the Cup is taking place.

In the first of today’s entries, titled “Disastrous Opening Ceremony Leads to Questions about Quidditch World Cup Security,” and dated 12 April 2014, Ginny documents the controversies surrounding the opening ceremony of the event. She describes how the teams’ mascots caused havoc on the event and includes statements from the Argentinian Council of Magic regarding the event.

The article also quotes magizoologist expert Rolf Scamander, who spoke about the disruptive mascots. As fans will know, Rolf Scamander’s expertise in magical creatures runs in the family, and Rolf’s grandfather, Newt Scamander will be the subject of the upcoming Fantastic Beasts film series, the screenplay for which is also being written by J.K. Rowling.

The second entry, “Norway versus Ivory Coast,” is a full recap of the Cup’s first game between those two countries. The post also includes a full post-game analysis.

The two reports are part of continuing effort by Pottermore to build excitement around this year’s Quidditch World Cup. The site previously published J.K. Rowling’s in-depth history of the tournament last month.

In conjunction with the posting of these reports, Pottermore has opened the Daily Prophet‘s offices in Diagon Alley to users, which is where you can read the two articles.

Visit the Daily Prophet Offices on Pottermore.com to read the live reports from the Quidditich World Cup.

Do you like what Pottermore is doing with the Quidditch World Cup? Do you like J.K. Rowling’s involvement with the site? Tell us your thoughts about the reports below!

Pottermore separates from Sony to start next stage of development

Image courtesy of Pottermore

Image courtesy of Pottermore

Pottermore has announced that they have ended their “successful relationship” with their “primary commercial partner,” Sony.

Unexpectedly, Pottermore announced the severance of ties with its founding partner in a press release this week.

On our part, we never would have expected this, considering the crucial role Sony has played in Pottermore’s development since its conception. The only reasoning we can gather is that Pottermore is ready to start an independent stage of their development, which is likely to entail a broadening expansion.

Whether Sony was holding Pottermore back from independence and expansion is unknown. The press release left no window into the reasons behind the separation, only stating that the relationship has “ended” and that the company is prepared to embark on their next phase of development.

You can read the CEO of Pottermore’s statements below; Sony has yet to make a statement.

Updated: Fansite SnitchSeeker reached out to Sony and Pottermore, and their responses are below, respectively.

A spokesperson from Pottermore told SnitchSeeker:

We are looking to explore new partnerships that will continue to help to develop the user experience in the areas of technology, creativity and commerce.

A rep from Sony spoke to SnitchSeeker about how the split would affect the site and products from the partnership. Their statement is below:

We will continue to sell our existing inventory of Wonderbook: Book of Spells and Wonderbook: Book of Potions, but will not produce any additional inventory. Anyone who owns Wonderbook will continue to receive customer service from Sony Computer Entertainment. Additionally, Pottermore at PlayStation Home will remain active for the foreseeable future and we will continue to provide customer support to its users.

Here is the full press release, issued Wednesday:

LONDON, ENGLAND, April 9, 2014 — Pottermore, the digital initiative from author J.K. Rowling devoted to the world of Harry Potter, today reported the conclusion of its successful relationship with its primary commercial partner Sony.

Pottermore.com launched in 2012 and has garnered millions of registered users. Sony was involved in the site’s development, and provided both commercial and creative support.

“After working together successfully, our relationship with Sony has ended,” said Susan L. Jurevics, CEO, Pottermore. “The partnership helped create a popular and robust digital experience for Harry Potter fans around the world. Pottermore is extremely well – positioned to build upon its success and enter its next phase in its development both creatively and commercially.”

As always, we will keep you updated with news if any is released.

Casting call for ‘The Casual Vacancy’ TV miniseries

TCV Book coverThis week, a casting call was put out for The Casual Vacancy television miniseries, which will be filmed this summer from June to August in the UK.

Unfortunately, the casting call is now closed (it was only discovered by fansites today), but if you’d like to read it, we’ve included it below.

Good luck to all who applied!

——–

Full announcement from Theater Bristol:

Casting Director Lucy Bevan (Pirates of The CaribbeanNanny McPhee ReturnsSnow White and the Huntsman) is searching for young actors to play a number of roles in new BBC and HBO television series, The Casual Vacancy, based on a novel by JK ROWLING.

Filming from 16 June through to the end of August, The Casual Vacancy is to be directed by Jonny Campbell (ShamelessEric & Ernie), with Ruth Kenley-Letts producing. The book is adapted by Sarah Phelps.

If you are interested in any of the roles below, please email emmagunnery@gmail.com with your name, age, headshot and details of any availability conflicts, as well as information of any previous acting experience by 4pm Wednesday, 9th April.

Fats (Male)

15 – 16. Thin, sallow face. Funny, laconic and nonchalant. Best friends with ARF. Disrespectful of what he sees as loser parents. Pleased with himself, smokes weed. Light West Country accent.

Playing age – 15 – 16

Appearance – White

Arf (Male)

15-16. Has a bad complexion, uncomfortable about the way he looks. Suffers at the hands of his horrible father. Keeps his pain to himself. Devotedly in love with beautiful GAIA. Light West Country accent.

Playing age – 15 – 16

Appearance – White

Paul (Male)

12. Younger brother of ARF. Terrified of his father, and always stands to attention when he comes into the room. Arf looks after him when their father is bullying him. Light West Country accent.

Playing age – 12

Appearance – White

Krystal (Female)

15/16. Cocky, all swagger, sass and a foul mouth. She also has the ability to melt your heart. Krystal is brave and a fighter; she is the sole carer of her heroin addict mum (Terri) and her younger brother Robbie (aged 5). A terrible fate awaits Krystal. Light West Country accent.

Playing age – 15-16

Appearance – White

Reward for fifth Pottermore House Cup announced

Briefly:

Ravenclaw House will receive early access to the final installment of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in reward for winning the fifth Pottermore House Cup, the Insider announced Friday.

As always, the House to receive early access to new chapters can explore them 24 hours before everyone else. Please note that they did not announced a release date yet for this next installment.

The Pottermore team has also created background images for Ravenclaw to celebrate their first win. You can download the background images for your laptop/desktop, smartphone or tablet at the Pottermore Insider.

Congratulations to Ravenclaw again for winning the House Cup!

Copyright of Pottermore

Bloomsbury to publish ‘J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography’

via GuardianBloomsbury will be releasing a new comprehensive bibliography of J.K. Rowling’s writing, J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography, this year.

J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography will be published on April 12, 2014 in the UK, and December 18 in the US, and is written by Philip A. Errington, the Director for Children’s Books within the Department of Printed Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s. The book is 448 pages long, and Amazon.com lists it on their website for $114. It will be published by Bloomsbury Academic, so we take this as being more of a textbook than anything.

Here’s the synopsis, via Amazon.com:

This is the definitive bibliography of the writings of J. K. Rowling. In addition to complete bibliographic details of all her books, pamphlets, original contributions to published works and broadcasts, there is detailed information on Rowling at auction, on significant reviews and on scholarly work on Rowling. This will be the first source on Rowling consulted by textual scholars, book collectors, auction houses, critics and researchers. The aim of the book is to record fact and dispel rumour on the fascinating publishing history of the Harry Potter series.

J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury have not announced anything about the book formally, but we expect an announcement of some sort soon. We’ll be sure to keep you updated with the latest, so be sure to return for the latest details.

$114 is a lot of money — Will you be purchasing J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography? Tell us in the comments below!

 

 

Pottermore announces winner of the fifth House Cup…

phc5As planned, on Sunday Pottermore announced the winner of the fifth House Cup competition.

And the winner is… Ravenclaw! Congratulations Eagles on a hard-earned win!

Here are the final standings:

1st Place: Ravenclaw - 28,048,578 points

2nd Place: Slytherin - 27,795,479 points

3rd Place: Hufflepuff - 27,350,412 points

4th Place: Gryffindor - 27,299,570 points

This is Ravenclaw House’s first win, and it was a huge imrpovement, as they received last place in the previous tournament. Slytherin House came in second place for the third time, non consecutively, and Hufflepuff received second. This is the first time Gryffindor has placed fourth, but the gap between 3rd and 4th place was the smallest.

Pottermore has transformed the previously purple Great Hall banners into a rich royal blue, in honor of Ravenclaw winning the cup, . You can see how the Great Hall looks in the picture above.

Usually, winners of the House Cup receive a prize in reward, but there has been no word yet on what that prize will be for Ravenclaw. We suspect it will be the next installment of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, or even a Quidditch game, which is possible considering all the unpredictable news about the World Cup being released from J.K. Rowling. If any news is released about the prize for the Cup, we’ll be sure to bring it to you, so check back with Pottermore News for any updates.

As always, the announcement of a House Cup winner marks the start of the next competition. Good luck to all the houses in the sixth House Cup! (Can you believe it — number six?!)

‘Fantastic Beasts’ film series planned to be a trilogy

In a new interview with the New York TimesWarner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara revealed that three movies are planned for the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film series.

Announced last September, Fantastic Beasts will be scripted by the Harry Potter author herself, J.K. Rowling. The series will be based off of Rowling’s 2001 book of the same name, and will be set about seventy years before the Harry Potter books, in New York.

This week, we learned more about the film project from Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara’s interview with the New York Times, including that the series will be a trilogy.

From the article:

…His deft touch became clear to Hollywood’s creative community last September. That is when Warner announced that Ms. Rowling had agreed to adapt for the big screen her “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a 2001 book billed as one of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts textbooks. Three megamovies are planned. The main character will be a “magizoologist” named Newt Scamander. The stories, neither prequels or sequels, will start in New York about seven decades before the arrival of Mr. Potter and his pals.

J.K. Rowling was also quoted in the article about Tsujihara’s convincing to get her to sign on to the films.

Convincing the famously independent Ms. Rowling to dive back into film was a coup. “When I say he made ‘Fantastic Beasts’ happen, it isn’t P.R.-speak but the literal truth,” Ms. Rowling said in response to emailed questions. “We had one dinner, a follow-up telephone call, and then I got out the rough draft that I’d thought was going to be an interesting bit of memorabilia for my kids and started rewriting!”

She added, “When Kevin got the top job, he brought a new energy, which rubbed off. He’s a very engaging person, thoughtful and funny.”

No news on casting or a release date have been announced yet for the project, but we’ll keep you up with the latest.

Pottermore releases part two of Quidditch World Cup entry

Courtesy of Pottermore

Courtesy of Pottermore

Today, Pottermore released part two of J.K. Rowling’s two-part entry on the Quidditch World Cup, titled “Quidditch World Cup (1990-2014)”.

In the entry, the Harry Potter author synopsizes every Quidditch World Cup that has taken place from 1990,and reveals details about the upcoming 2014 competition, which will take place next month.

From the press release:

In ‘History of the Quidditch World Cup’ part two, ‘Quidditch World Cup (1990-2014)’, we can learn:

  • Which small country managed to beat China in a furiously contested match lasting 3 days
  • Which country’s team almost refused to play when their team mascots — a kind of African house-elf called a Yumboe — were all arrested outside the stadium
  • Which ‘Seeker’ had a short-lived stint as Burkina Faso’s Minister for Magic following his team’s win
  • Which Scottish player famously lambasted his hereditary short fingers for missing the Snitch in the 1990 Canada-Scotland final

And we find out key information about the 2014 Quidditch World Cup:

  • Where this year’s Quidditch World Cup will be held (because of the International Statute of Secrecy, venues are usually remote moors, deserts or deserted islands)

  • The full line-up of the sixteen countries competing, with J.K. Rowling’s pre-tournament predictions and insider tips

  • Which infamous player has come out of retirement to play in the Quidditch Wold Cup 2014 (he plays a big part in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

Visit ‘The Golden Stadium’ Moment in Chapter 8 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on Pottermore.com to read “Quidditch World Cup (1990-2014)

Last week, Pottermore published part one of this entry, the “History of the Quidditch World Cup,” which gave an insight into the historical background of the fictional competition, including how it started, rules and regulations of the games, and infamous World Cups. You can read the entry here.

Did you like the World Cup entries? Do you want to see more like these from J.K. Rowling? Tell us in the comments below!

Bloomsbury to Release New ‘Harry Potter’ Children’s Edition Novels

normal_Harry_Potter_Philosopher_s_Stone_Jonny_DuddleFollowing the recent announcement on publishing fully illustrated editions of the Harry Potter series, Bloomsbury announced yesterday they will be releasing revamped editions of the Harry Potter novels on September 1 with all new illustrations.

According to the press release, these new editions will be “reset to create a child-friendly reading experience for a new generation of readers,” but there was no explanation of what this could entail. However, we do know that they will feature completely redesigned front cover, back cover, and spine artwork and that all of the titles will contain highlights from Pottermore.

For the thrilling task of reinventing the world of Harry Potter for a new audience, Bloomsbury and J.K. Rowling chose the award-winning Jonny Duddle.

On being selected, Duddle stated, “I’m hugely excited to work my way through the wonderful books. I couldn’t have asked for more enjoyable subject matter. It’s exciting, daunting, and I feel the weight of responsibility, and I’m just hoping that my illustrations faithfully reflect the characters and the world created by J.K. Rowling.” Duddle is known for such works as The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door picture books, which are winner of the Waterstone’s Children’s Prize and shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, respectively, and his work has also appeared in Aardman films and Terry Pratchett novels.

Alongside the new hardback and softback Harry Potter novels, Pottermore will publish eBooks of all of the editions, with the new artwork, concurrently. Bloomsbury has also teamed up with Pottermore to show how much, much more can be discovered about the world of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling on Pottermore.com. This information will be available to readers in the back of the new Harry Potter children’s editions.

Stay tuned to Pottermore News for more exciting Harry Potter news after next month’s London Book Fair!

Tell us below: What do you think about this re-mastering of the Harry Potter series for a new generation? How do you think these new editions will compare to the seven novels we know and love?

Image courtesy of SnitchSeeker

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