With movies, theme parks, video games, toys, an MMORPG, and more movies, Harry Potter is one of the largest media franchises in the world, but it almost went a different way. Unseen64 reports that at one time Nintendo had made a bid to make Harry Potter video games.
This was back in 1998, not much more than a year after the first book was published, and all of the major video game makers were working on pitches with the hopes of securing a lucrative license to print money. Nintendo's pitch was rejected, and is only seeing the light of day now.
Had this pitch succeeded, the video games would have looked very different from what Electronics Arts eventually produced.
According to reports, Nintendo halted work on 3 different games so more resources could be devoted to this pitch. The team was then split in two, with the larger group focusing on developing a pitch for a third-person adventure title, while a smaller group worked on a potential game based around quidditch.
Few records remain of the work developed for this pitch, but one report states that the initial artwork was inspired by the illustrations in the first Harry Potter novel.
At right, for example, was Nintendo's concept for Hogwarts - a vision which looks nothing like what was pictured in the 2001 movie.
Alas, the early ideas were rejected by Nintendo's management, which instead insisted on manga-inspired artwork:
…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.
The team which was working on the quidditch game wanted to follow a similar path, or so it is reported. Nintendo won't release the artwork, so there's no way to know for sure.
But we do know that this pitch was rejected, and that was a good thing. Unseen64 reports that Nintendo was pitching for all the adaptation rights, including video games, the movies, merchandising, and more. It's said that Rowling rejected Nintendo's pitch in favor of competing pitches from companies like Universal, Warner Brothers, and Disney.
Those companies had greater resources than Nintendo, while the latter was mainly focused on video games. Had Nintendo won the bid we might never have had the Harry Potter movies in any form, much less the 8 blockbuster hits (plus several in the works).