'Harry Potter' Fan Filmmakers Say They've Got OK from Warner Bros. to Make Not-for-Profit 'Voldemort' Movie

‘Voldemort: Origins of the Heir,’ a Harry Potter fan film

Fan films pose a tricky problem for movie studios. On the one hand, they speak to, and feed, fans’ love for and connection to the studio’s franchises. On the other, they infringe upon extremely valuable copyrights. In the case of a forthcoming, unsanctioned Harry Potter prequel, however, it appears that Warner Bros has chosen not to stand in the way of its completion.

As reported by Polygon (via Slashfilm), Tryangle Films’ Gianmaria Pezzato and Stefano Prestia raised money through Kickstarter to fund their unauthorized Harry Potter project Voldemort: Origins of the Heir, which details the rise to evil power of the series’ noseless big bad. When their crowdfunding efforts drew the attention of Warner Bros., which holds the rights to the Potter franchise and is currently in the midst of making its own Fantastic Beasts-led prequel series, the campaign was suspended. However, Pezzato now reveals to Polygon that production is a go, saying a deal has been struck with the Hollywood studio that’ll allow them to finish their work:

“We had a private and confidential discussion with Warner Bros who contacted us during the period of the crowdfunding campaign,” Pezzato told Polygon. “The only thing we can say is that they let us proceed with the film, in a non-profit way, obviously.”

Watch the trailer for ‘Voldemort: Origins of the Heir’:

The “non profit way” is key here, since what’s most rankled studios in the past has been the notion that random strangers might be making money off of properties that they don’t own. That issue came to a head earlier this year, when CBS and Paramount reached a settlement on a contentious lawsuit with Axanar Productions, Inc., which found itself in serious legal trouble over their planned Star Trek fan film Prelude to Axanar. That case’s resolution led to the creation of certain Star Trek fan-movie guidelines, which among other things, stipulate that any such efforts “must be non-commercial.”

As for Origins of the Heir, Pezzato states that it’s aiming to answer one of the big questions that, so far, has been left unexplored by the J.K. Rowling-authored universe:

“We wondered, ‘What made Tom Riddle become Voldemort? What happened in those years, and what really went down at Hogwarts when he came back?’ There are some clues in the books which have not been transposed at all in the movies, but a lot goes unspoken. This is the story we want to tell: The rise of the Dark Lord before Harry Potter and his first demise.”

You can check out Origins of the Heir’s impressive first trailer above; according to the Polygon report, the finished film aims to be available online, for free streaming, by the end of the year.

Watch a trailer for ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2’:

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