Harry Potter: The Brand That Will Live Forever?

Originally published on July 15, 2011 7:49 pm

After 1,178 minutes of total screen time, the Harry Potter film series has finally ended.

The release of the last Harry Potter film is a bittersweet finale not just for fans, but also for the Hollywood film industry and other players in the multibillion-dollar business empire built upon J.K. Rowling's popular book series.

The Loss Of A Franchise

The end began last November with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Now that Warner Bros. Pictures has finally released Part 2, the studio may be entering dark times.

It's losing a major film franchise that has brought in more than $6 billion.

"They're really scrambling right now to find a franchise to replace this Harry Potter franchise," says Matt Belloni, news director of The Hollywood Reporter. "They hope that they can start a superhero franchise with their DC comics heroes."

Warner Bros. has struck box-office gold with the new Batman films. But its latest masked crusader, the Green Lantern, didn't quite catch on with moviegoers.

Nikki Finke, editor and founder of the entertainment news site DeadlineHollywood.com, says the Harry Potter series is a tough act to follow, especially since the films attracted a wide audience.

"You go out there, you try and make a movie that your mother wants to see, as well as you want to see, and your father wants to see, and your brother wants to see. It's hard!" Finke says.

Learning From The King Of Brands

Of course, apart from the movies, there are ongoing Harry Potter enterprises in place.

There's the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Fla., and Pottermore, an online community that will open to the public this fall.

Jack Soden, president and CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, knows a thing or two about managing iconic brands.

It's been almost 35 years since Elvis' death, but Graceland still draws more than half a million visitors every year.

"What you hear more than anything now is, 'Oh, my mother was a huge fan! You know, I grew up listening to Elvis music in the house, and I became a fan.' And that's how Harry Potter will get passed from generation to generation," Soden says.

If those kids keep buying all things Potter — books, movies, and whatever else they come up with — Harry could go from the "Boy Who Lived" to the "Boy Who Lived Forever."

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

At midnight, fans around this country filled movie theaters to see Harry Potter's last appearance on screen.

LOUISE KELLY: I mean, it's the end of an era. I mean...

LOUISE KELLY: It's the end of my childhood. This was, this was my whole childhood.

LOUISE KELLY: We all grew up with Harry Potter. We all just love the story.

LOUISE KELLY: And now, it's gone. To me, Harry Potter was something that would just never end. And now I feel like it's over; life is complete. And this is, literally, the second movie I've cried in, in my kind of young life.

LOUISE KELLY: I'm crying on the inside. I don't really cry, but it's just hard to believe it's over.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LOUISE KELLY: NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports on Harry Potter's bittersweet finale.

HANSI LO WANG: The end began last November, with the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART ONE")

LOUISE KELLY: (as Minister Rufus Scrimgeour) These are dark times. There is no denying.

LO WANG: And now that Warner Brothers Pictures has finally released Part Two, the studio may be entering its own dark times. They're losing a major film franchise that's brought in more than $6 billion.

LOUISE KELLY: They're really scrambling right now to find a franchise to replace this Harry Potter franchise.

LO WANG: Matt Belloni is the news director of the Hollywood Reporter.

LOUISE KELLY: They hoped that they could start a superhero franchise with their DC Comics heroes.

(SOUNDBITE OF NOISE)

LOUISE KELLY: (as character) So what are you proposing?

LOUISE KELLY: (as character) It's simple: Kill the Batman.

(SOUNDBITE OF NOISE) (SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LO WANG: Nikki Finke is the editor of the entertainment news site DeadlineHollywood.com. And she says the Harry Potter series is a tough act to follow, especially since the films attracted a wide audience.

LOUISE KELLY: You go out there; you try and make a movie that your mother wants to see as well as you want to see, and your father wants to see, and your brother wants to see. It's hard.

LO WANG: Jack Soden is the CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, so he knows a thing or two about managing iconic brands. It's been almost 35 years since Elvis' death, but Graceland still draws more than half a million visitors every year.

LOUISE KELLY: What you hear more than anything now is oh, my mother was a huge fan. You know, I grew up listening to Elvis music in the house, and I became a fan. And that's how Harry Potter will get passed from generation to generation.

LO WANG: Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.