Friday Five: The Next 'Harry Potter'

Even with three more Harry Potter films still due to hit theaters over the next few years, folks still love to pretend they know which property will replace the box office behemoth. First it was The Golden Compass, and then that failed. Inkheart, based on another popular series of books, was said to be a contender to be the next Harry Potter, but that film came and went without much hullabaloo.

So what do we have left? As the sixth Harry Potter film gets ready to debut on July 15th (did you see the new trailer?), which upcoming or current movie properties have the potential to replace the great boy wizard? Here are five I’ve got my eye on:

1. Twilight – After the success of the books and the first movie, the Twilight Saga is obviously a strong contender to replace Potter. It’s a teen-centric story that, like Potter to a certain degree, contains a sort of dark, menacing, supernatural element. Perhaps the sappy vampire romance is a touch "older" than Potter’s core audience, but it’s definitely won over thousands of passionate fans – and, once New Moon hits theaters next fall, I’d expect this sucker to be absolutely everywhere.
2.  Percy Jackson – Going beyond Twilight, lots of folks say Percy Jackson is the next Harry Potter. Based on the series of novels from Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson is an adventure fantasy that follows a 12-year-old kid who, after discovering he’s the son of the Greek God Poseidon, sets out to learn more about his heritage and to possibly help save the world from a war among Gods. Ya know, normal kid stuff. Chris Columbus, who directed the first two Potter movies, is lined up to direct the first adaptation of Riordan’s novel, The Lightning Thief.
3. Avatar: The Last Airbender – Remember M. Night Shyamalan? Yeah, the guy who directed Sixth Sense … and then a bunch of other movies? Well he’s returning to kid films with this one based on the very popular animated series. Shyamalan is going the live-action route with the movie, due out July, 2010, and it definitely has a few key components like the large built-in fanbase and lots of nifty supernatural elements. Buzz is still fairly quiet on this one so far, but it’s still too early to tell if it has movie legs or just TV toes.
4. The Advenures of Tintin – Originally planned as a trilogy, Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are investing a heckuva lot of time and budget on this European import, which both directors will turn into a motion-capture 3D moviegoing experience beginning in 2011. Tintin, which is based on a series of comic strips, follows the adventures of a young Belgian reporter and his faithful fox terrier – and they’re calling the first film, The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. Eh. There’s a reason why unicorns aren’t popular in movies unless they’re being used as part of a joke. That’s all I’ll say about that.
5. The 39 Clues – Similar to The Adventures of Tintin, Steven Spielberg picked up the rights to this series of fantasy adventure books, the first of which – titled The Maze of Bones – was written by Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan. This particular series is unique in that it’s fairly interactive, with not only books to read, but games to play online and prizes to be won. It follows the story of  Amy and Dan Cahill whose grandmother, on her death bead, tells them there are 39 clues spread around that world that, when found, will unearth the secret Cahill family hidden power which can be used to become the richest, most important people in the world. Spielberg picked up the rights back in 2008, with an eye on directing the first film himself. Jeff Nathanson is writing the script.

Do you think one of these has the potential to become the next Harry Potter? Or do you have your eye on another magical property?

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