ByRob Harris, writer at
Sometimes I play video games.
Rob Harris

According to a recent report by Unseen64, the Japanese video game conglomerate Nintendo was a whisker away from obtaining the "rights to produce all adaptations" of J.K. Rowling's international phenomenon, Harry Potter.

Had they secured the blockbuster license back in 1998 (a license to print money, practically), Warner Bros.' much loved cinematic adaptation of the franchise may never have seen the Lumos-lit light of day, and the Harry Potter universe we've come to know and love would've looked very different indeed!

If you're interested in seeing what the company behind Mario had planned for The Boy Who Lived, then look no further than here...

Nintendo's Vision for Hogwarts

Wow! The over-exaggerated cartoon style certainly makes for a startling point of contrast. Of course, this is what Warner went with for the movie:

Warner's Vision for Hogwarts

It's important to note that Nintendo's early concept art designs were in fact for a video game adaptation. However, the deal they were competing for was a 'blanket license,' granting them rights to all formats of adaptation, not only including electronic entertainment, but also TV and film. So this alternative style really could have been a reality!

Nintendo's Vision for Hagrid's Hut

The Forbidden Forest has a fairy-tale-esque quality to it here, with the scenery seeming more like Hobbiton than Hogwarts. It's fascinating to see how a different creative team approached the same source material.

Warner's Vision for Hagrid's Hut

Warner's take leans more heavily on Medieval imagery than traditional fantasy, grounding the universe in a much more realistic world.

Back in 1998 Nintendo ordered multiple teams to produce a pitch for the rights, which would be presented to J.K. Rowling herself. They even brought in Adi Granov - the esteemed Marvel comic book artist behind projects like Iron Man and The Avengers - to work on some early concept character art.

An anonymous inside source said:

All together it was only a week of insanely furious scribbling things to the digital artists to create animations for mock game demos.

Unfortunately, Nintendo won't allow any of these character designs to be publicly disclosed, but we can show you their take on the famous Hogwarts Express!

The Hogwarts Express

Book cover (L), Nintendo (M), Warner (R)
Book cover (L), Nintendo (M), Warner (R)

As you can see, Nintendo's artwork seemed to draw heavy influence from Thomas Taylor's original cover art for Rowling's first book, The Sorcerer's Stone.

However, disagreements in Nintendo's internal ranks were brewing and it didn't take long for the Asian company to steer creative direction back towards their Japanese roots:

…it went against all my instincts based on what I had read quotes from JK about keeping it strictly British, and I had to revamp my initial designs and go more manga/Japanese – I had a big fight about that, but my boss insisted.

Harry Potter Anime

Fan art
Fan art

Could this have been the Harry Potter that almost was?

Of course, in the end J.K. Rowling declined Nintendo's proposal, opting instead for a company with more established ties to the movie business. The British author later sold the rights to Warner Bros. for around $2m, resulting in the eight awesome movies produced since.

What do you guys think? Do you prefer Nintendo's take on Harry Potter, or was Rowling right to go with Warner?


Do you prefer Nintendo's concept art?

[Source: Unseen64]


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