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'Wizard People': The Underground 'Potter'

Comic book artist Brad Neely thought it would be funny to create his own soundtrack for the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The audiences who saw his creation, Wizard People, Dear Reader, thought it was funny too; but Warner Bros. was not amused.

The Austin, Texas-based Neely created an irreverent reenactment of the movie's story designed to be synced with a silent screening of the 2001 film, an adaptation of the wildly popular J.K. Rowling book.

Neely began giving recordings of his narration out to friends. The director of the New York Underground Film Festival got a copy, and invited Neely to perform Wizard People at a live screening last spring. Since then, Neely has done the show all over the country.

He was scheduled to perform this spring in New York, Boston and other cities, until the movie's regional distributor began calling theaters hosting those screenings and convinced three of them to bow out. The studio says it has to evaluate any use of the Potter film that departs from the creators' original intent.

In order to use the film without permission, Neely could argue that his version constitutes a distinct work of art. But he would have to prove that argument in court, which Neely says he will not do.

Neely says he is just a fan of the film who was out to have fun, not make a buck. In fact, he says he has lost money on the enterprise. Still, he will miss performing Wizard People. His next project, he says, will be more "obviously legal."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.