The Harry Potter franchise has branched into many forms of media, and one pop icon even wanted to turn it into a musical: Michael Jackson.
Ever since the first installment hit shelves back in 1997, the Harry Potter franchise has been a staple of pop culture. The book series, which follows the titular character as he learns magic at a boarding school for witches and wizards, has spawned many adaptations, spin-offs and theme park attractions. However, there are still a few mediums that the series has yet to tackle. One such medium is the stage musical. While there have been multiple fan-made musicals in the past based on the character, there has yet to be an official music-based play within the growing catalog of Harry Potter media.
As it turns out, there was one celebrity that did have his eye on turning the book series into a musical. During a 2010 interview with Oprah, J.K. Rowling revealed an interesting piece of trivia. After being asked if she was ever reluctant to “increase the empire,” the author mentioned that she was once approached by Michael Jackson, who presented her with a rather unusual pitch.
He wanted to develop a musical based on the adventures of Harry Potter. However, she ultimately turned the pitch down, citing her carefulness about saying yes to things, and how she agreed to certain projects, such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, because she knew they would turn out “incredible.”
While there are no other details about this hypothetical stage play beyond this interview, it does leave fans to wonder what a musical based around Harry Potter would have been like, especially with Michael Jackson at the helm. Such an undertaking likely could have found plenty of financial success, especially since both the franchise and the music artist were popular, but there could have been many good reasons to be wary of the idea.
For instance, the concept of turning such a popular franchise into a musical could have ended in disaster no matter who was attached to it. It’s not an easy task to turn seven books into one feature-length musical without entirely changing the source material. There was also the fact that, despite being one of the most iconic musicians of all time, Michael Jackson did not have prior experience with stage musicals. This is not to say that he couldn’t have done a good job with it, but it certainly would’ve made it harder to pull off. Whether or not this might’ve influenced the quality of the product, unfortunately, will never be known, but it is interesting to think about what could have been.
The Harry Potter franchise eventually went on to have a stage play six years after Rowling’s interview, although not a musical. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child premiered at the West End in London on July 30, 2016. It is meant to be the official sequel to the books and has gained mostly positive reviews since its debut. The play made its way to Broadway two years later.