Harry Potter been a big deal for a long time now, starting with the publication of the first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone, for you non-Americans) in 1997, and skyrocketing to new heights when the film series launched in 2001. Even though the Wizarding World franchise is on a screen hiatus for the moment, you won’t have any trouble finding fans of the magical mythology J.K. Rowling crafted. In fact, Timothy Spall, who played Wormtail in the Harry Potter movies, has gone so far as to call the fanbase a “bit of a religion.”
Spall made this comparison while chatting about his new movie Joy to the World, where he plays Father Christmas. After noting how this 2023 new movie release, like the Harry Potter movies, is geared towards younger audiences, he said the following to Variety about the latter franchise’s fans:
Harry Potter is still such a big deal. It’s edging towards becoming a bit of a religion. It’s bizarre.
While some might not be willing to make the jump of comparing the Harry Potter fandom to a religious movement, Timothy Spall’s certainly correct that its devotees are passionate, just like the enthusiasts for other franchises, whether it be Star Wars, Marvel, etc. Even just accounting for the movies alone, the saga that unfolded between The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 collectively made over $7.7 billion worldwide. Throw in the impressive book sales on top of that, along with the Fantastic Beasts spinoffs and the attractions at the Universal Studios theme parks, and clearly a lot of people are invested in the mythology centered around The Boy Who Lived.
Timothy Spall debuted as Voldemort follower Wormtail, a.k.a. Peter Pettigrew, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, although the character had appeared in the previous two movies in his rat form, Scabbers. The actor reprised Wormtail in four more movies, along with with archive footage being used of him in The Deathly Hallows Part 2. After commenting on how enthusiastic the Harry Potter fans are, Spall recalled a time he saw firsthand how much time and care went into the making of those movies, saying:
It’s great storytelling, but it was also beautifully made. One day, I wandered into a studio and there was someone [manually] putting leaves on a tree, one by one. That’s dedication. They were doing that for the audience.
Following the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, it doesn’t appear as the originally-announced five-movie plan for that film series is moving forward anymore, as there’s been no word about where things stand with Fantastic Beasts 4. Instead, Warner Bros. Discovery is focused on a TV adaptation of the original Harry Potter books, which will air exclusively to Max subscribers. As such, at some point later this decade, a new actor will succeed Timothy Spall as Wormtail, but considering that Tonks actress Natalia Tena is open to appearing in the show as a different character, perhaps Spall would be game for that too.
In addition to being available on Max, the Harry Potter film saga can also be streamed with a Peacock subscription. While we wait for concrete news about what the TV series holds in store, revisit how we ranked the Harry Potter movies.