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Muggles rejoice as Harry Potter universe expands

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Cassie Watson heard the news from her sister, who raced into her bedroom speechless after reading it on Facebook.

For the organiser of the Harry Potter fan club, Sydney Muggles United, J.K. Rowling's announcement that she was writing a series of spin-off movies was like winning the lottery.

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J.K. Rowling to pen new films

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is to make her screenwriting debut by penning a series of spin-off films set in the magical world of the British boy wizard.

'I cried a little bit,'' Watson said. ''Then there was a lot of jumping around then screaming.''

While an era ended two years ago with the final Harry Potter movie - after seven novels and eight movies - Muggles around the world celebrated after Rowling announced her screenwriting debut.

The movies, starting with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be inspired by a Hogwarts textbook of the same name and feature its fictitious author, Newt Scamander.


Rowling described the new series as neither prequel nor sequel but an extension of the wizarding world.

Watson, a 19-year-old university student, has lost count of how many times she has read the books and watched the movies. ''I did see Part II of Deathly Hallows six times at the movies alone,'' she said.

''It's a huge joy to hear there's going to be another one.''

Her high hopes are based on Rowling writing the screenplay.

''We know we'll see a lot of new stuff about the world. We know it will be about Newt Scamander - I'm assuming it will pick up once he leaves Hogwarts and goes around the world looking for magical creatures.

''We'll get to see a lot about international wizardry that we don't know much about.''

One of the organisers of the Melbourne Muggles, Amanda Walters, was ''hesitantly excited'' about the series. ''The book that they're basing it on is literally just a dictionary of the animals that are in the Harry Potter world so it's not really a story,'' she said. ''But if J.K. Rowling has got her hands in it, I'm really excited. Fingers crossed it all turns out brilliantly.''

But as some fans wondered on social media, was it just a way for Warner Bros to wring more cash from the highest grossing franchise in movie history? Will the new series reduce Hogwarts to hogwash? Can it be half as good without Harry?

Olivia Ronan, president of the Sydney University Quidditch Society, is optimistic. ''I'd hope it's in the same vein and has the same textual integrity the others have had,'' she said. ''If it's just for money, I'd be concerned but from the excitement it seems to have generated, you can only hope that it'll be great.''

While Ronan has missed the excitement of new releases, the Leichhardt law student keeps returning to the books. ''It's a welcome escape from my law reading.''

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