LOS ANGELES, March 13 (Reuters) - Warner Bros. has conjured up some Hollywood magic for the final installment of the wildly popular “Harry Potter” movies, splitting the seventh and final book into two films, the movie studio said on Thursday.
Part one of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” will debut in late 2010 and be followed months later by part two.
“We feel that the best way to do the book, and its many fans, justice is to expand the screen adaptation of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ and release the film in two parts,” Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement.
The first five films in the series have been huge hits with a total global box office nearing $4.5 billion. The sixth movie is now being filmed.
The movies are based on British author J.K. Rowling’s best-selling fantasy novels about the adventures of boy wizard Harry Potter and his friends as they grow from kids into teenagers at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
“Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final book in Rowling’s series, was published last July to huge fanfare, selling some 11.5 million copies in its first 10 days in the United States.
But the final volume is a long saga at more than 750 pages, and it is filled with many twists and turns as Harry and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley wrap up their story lines. Harry faces — once and for all times — the dark Lord Voldemort who murdered his parents.
Because of the many adventures in “Deathly Hallows,” Rowling, the movies’ producers and Warner Bros. all agreed that two movies were necessary to truly tell the end story.
“‘The Deathly Hallows’ is so rich, the story so dense and there is so much that is resolved that after discussing it with Jo, we came to the conclusion that the two parts were needed to do it justice,” said producer David Heyman, who first took the project to Warner Bros. in 1997.
The books and movies also have been a huge money maker beyond theater box offices and DVDs. They have spawned products from toys to T-shirts to a planned theme park.
By some estimates, “Harry Potter” represents a $20 billion business, so an eighth film will likely only expand the enterprise.
Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry, and his co-stars Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron) are now filming the sixth movie — “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” All three have said they would appear in “Deathly Hallows.”
Warner Bros. is a unit of media giant Time Warner Inc. TWX.N (Editing by Jill Serjeant and John O’Callaghan)