Both the Harry Potter books and the film adaptations remain popular to this day, despite the release of the first book in 2001 and the last film in 2011. The reunion of the original cast in January 2022 for the twentieth anniversary of the first film, as well as the release of the third installment of Fantastic Beasts, the film series telling the stories before Harry Potter, underscore the franchise's longevity and enduring popularity. This research aims to understand this long-term fan engagement by considering the following research question: How do fans give meaning to their long-term commitment to the Harry Potter franchise? By conducting semi-structured qualitative interviews with twelve fans of the franchise and conducting a subsequent analysis of the interviews using a thematic content analysis, valuable insights relevant to answering the research question were obtained. An important finding was the continuity of the participants' attachment to Harry Potter. This was explained by the strong and long-term commitment to the series, as all participants first encountered the series as children. Because of this long attachment, the fandom influenced the participants' identities by, for example, shaping certain character traits such as imagination and creativity. Furthermore, influences of fandom on the life course, such as inspiration for participants' careers, were observed. In addition, due their long-term engagement, changes and influences on the participants' fandom, such as time constraints as adults, negative experiences, including being judged for their fandom, but also positive influences, such as increased exposure due to digitization, were observed. Moreover, participants attributed a comforting role to Harry Potter in their lives, allowing them to escape from their everyday lives and stress. This finding led to marketing implications as participants emphasized the relevance of closely related activities and merchandise to further immerse themselves in the world. Additionally, participants feel very protective of Harry Potter due to their long and emotional attachment to it, especially regarding new releases and marketing activities. Therefore, when planning future marketing activities, attention should be paid to ensuring a close connection to the original series. Aside from these practical implications for marketing, the research also offered theoretical implications, for example, in relation to cyclical fan engagement, highlighting that while fans may experience more and less intense periods of engagement, they do not fully exhaust the fan object to move on to another.

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Dr. Simone Driessen
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Henriette Barbara Nöthel. (2022, June 27). The captivating magic of fandoms A qualitative study about long-term fan engagement with the Harry Potter franchise. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from