The Global Success of Harry Potter

Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, and Emma Watson in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."

Twenty years ago, J.K. Rowling published a book about a young boy who lived under the stairs with his mean uncle and aunt. One day, a bearded man appears in the middle of the night and changes his life forever. That man was Rubeus Hagrid. When Harry discovers that he is in fact a wizard who will attend a school of witchcraft and wizardry, it was not just his life that was transformed. The world of children’s literature was transformed too.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone may have been published two decades ago, but the series remains one of the most popular franchises of all time. As it stands, the magical world of Harry Potter is worth more than $25 billion. The book itself has been published in over 75 languages and there have now been ten films in the franchise, which includes Magical Beasts and Where To Find Them.

J.K. Rowling has also written a play on Broadway and there are multiple theme parks around the world which have implemented a Harry Potter theme, including Universal Studios in Japan. But why are we all so obsessed?

There are multiple elements of Harry Potter which make it irresistible. It’s a story of friendship and childhood, and when you take out the potions and spells, Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s experiences are surprisingly relatable. Harry Potter also tells the triumph of good over evil. It’s a structure we know and love, a formula that has been popular since the early myths. When you take all these elements and mix in magic, flying, and mythical creatures, you have a recipe for global success.

There are other external elements that ensured the brand’s global success too. The Internet was just starting up, which gave fan fiction a chance to really take off. There were also few rivals when it came to fantasy fiction. In fact, it had traditionally not been a genre that had performed well. Harry Potter filled a gap in the market and ended up dominating the children’s fiction market entirely.

And yet this doesn’t quite seem to cover it. The impact that Harry Potter has had on the world is immeasurable and perhaps there really is no singular reason why. It’s got to be magic.