Despite being restricted to a fairly low-key announcement, today is set for the next round of Pottermania. Many fans of the boy wizard will already have seen the small notice on author J.K. Rowling’s yet-to-open Pottermore website reading: “Come back on 31st July to find out how you can get the chance to enter Pottermore early.” There is unlikely to be a shortage of volunteers.
In a lengthy email interview on Forbes, Starlight CEO Jeff Gomez, describes why he sees the launch of Pottermore as being so important. “It exists not just to sell ebooks, but to nurture and ultimately expand the canon of Harry Potter itself. That’s historic in many ways.”
Mr. Gomez has been involved in the production of games and products for “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Avatar” and “Hot Wheels”. He believes British author J.K. Rowling with pottemore.com is playing a vital role in the development of what he calls “transmedia story telling”.
In today’s interconnected world, our attention flows from our computer screens to our mobile screens to our TV screens without our giving such activity a second thought. The problem has been that the stories we enjoy don’t do that; they don’t behave the way we’ve come to need them to behave. So what we get is repeated and repurposed content: Avatar on our iPhones, High School Musical on Ice. Transmedia storytelling is a technique rising into prominence in Hollywood and on Madison Avenue that allows for the development of robust “story worlds” that play out across multiple media platforms.
The producers of Pottermore are creating “a communal storytelling engine”, he says. ”They’ll be doing what most movie studios have yet failed to do, which is to officialize and galvanize a massive fan base into a single location, and then service their wildest dreams.”
It’s leveraging colossal worldwide interest, and likely the biggest global box office return in history to introduce us to a new way of coming together and engaging with the Harry Potter world. Genius!
It’s this unique and multi-tiered approach—one that can be accessed through any screen large or small—that makes Pottermore the most significant development in transmedia (and in storytelling in general) this year, and perhaps ever.