The oldest, richest wizarding families have nothing on the muggle who made them.
JK Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter wizarding world and its mega-franchise, has been named one of the world’s highest-paid celebrities of 2017. She made $95 million from June 2016 to 2017, placing her third on Forbes’ annual list, snugly wedged between pop stars Beyoncé and Drake, and just above soccer idol Cristiano Ronaldo.
The author didn’t appear on last year’s list at all, beat out by 100 fine entertainers like Penn & Teller and Dave Matthews Band. But Rowling’s success in the last year shows that no yarn or appendix is too small for her to turn into millions.
Rowling was flying high from spin-offs last year. The Cursed Child play, an eighth Harry Potter story about Harry’s loser son, Albus, came out in London in July. The published script for the play became an instant bestseller and was the bestselling book on Amazon in 2016. The Broadway production of the play will open next year.
At the same time her 2001 textbook about fictional magic creatures, Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them, became a monster hit. In November the first in a series of films based on the textbook, starring Eddie Redmayne as an early 20th-century zoologist, came out, grossing $814 million worldwide. The next movie will come out in November 2018.
Even with Rowling’s new projects turning kids’ stories into cold cash, the staples are still finding readers. Six out of 20 “most read” books this week on Amazon are books from the original series. (The list tracks people opening and reading ebooks and audiobooks, and not book sales.)