Harry Potter/ The Office

Um, This New Series Sounds Like A Combination Of 'Harry Potter' & 'The Office'

by Ani Bundel
Warner Bros./NBC

When someone says an upcoming film is based on British fantasy novels, most assume it must be for teens. The Young Adult genre exploded in the wake of the Harry Potter novels, as did the stories based in magical worlds. But the J.W. Wells & Co. series from K. J. Parker is a little different. These humorous fantasy novels are set squarely in the world of adult contemporary life, which is why the film The Portable Door sounds as if Harry Potter met The Office.

K. J. Parker is the pseudonym of writer Tom Holt, best known for historical novels like 1999's Alexander At The World's End. Under the Parker name, he's released several series, including The Fencer trilogy (about Bardas Loredan, a fencer-at-law) and many retellings of fairy tales and myths, most of which come with a humorous bent. For example, there's Who's Afraid of Beowulf?, based on the ancient Beowulf poem, and Djinn Rummy, a retelling of Aladdin.

The Portable Door is the first of a collection of stories that all center around the firm J.W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers. The company is based on the 1877 Gilbert & Sullivan opera The Sorcerer, in which the firm is enlisted to brew magical love potions for the titular character.


In The Portable Door, released in 2003, it's now the 21st century. Paul Carpenter, a university dropout with little imagination and fewer prospects, unwittingly applies for a clerk's position at the firm, unaware of its actual business. And that's where the movie will pick up.

According to The Hollywood Reporter:

Christoph Waltz and Guy Pearce are to star in the fantasy adventure comedy The Portable Door, adapted from Tom Holt's six-book fantasy series... The Jim Henson Company and Story Bridge Films, behind Daybreakers and Bait, are producing.

Patrick Gibson (The OA) will star as Carpenter. Here's the film's synopsis:

Paul Carpenter, a new intern at the mysterious London firm J.W. Wells & Co., becomes steadily aware that his employers are anything but conventional. Charismatic villain Humphrey Wells (Waltz), the CEO of the company, is disrupting the world of magic by bringing modern corporate strategy to ancient magical practices. Dennis Tanner (Pearce) is the shape-shifting goblin trapped in the organization’s middle management.

Depending on how the first film turns out, this could be a full-on franchise. The other books in the series include In Your Dreams, Earth, Air, Fire, and Custard, You Don't Have to Be Evil to Work Here (But It Helps), The Better Mousetrap, and May Contain Traces of Magic.

The Portable Door is expected to start filming later this year.