Harry Potter vs. Star Wars 3-D: Battle at the box office!

Harry vs. Luke: Which sparkly-stick wielding hero do you prefer?

Two heroic journeys go head to head this fall in theatres: George Lucas plans to re-release all six Star Wars films on 3-D, and the second-to-last Harry Potter film will be coming out in 3-D this fall as well. Forbes has already penned a post that pits the franchises against each other, pointing out that Harry Potter is edging up on Star Wars' current standing as richest franchise of all time.

The question of whether J.K. Rowling or George Lucas is rolling in more dough has been asked before, and Lucas has continued to come out on top. However, the two franchises haven't yet been in competition quite as directly as they're about to be, and as Forbes points out, Harry Potter is only $300 million shy of out-earning Star Wars. (Only $300 million. I know. It's just a stone's throw away, really!)

It's easy to see why these two franchises get compared time and time again. Aside from both being cash cows, Star Wars and Harry Potter also have similar plotlines, not to mention detailed fantastical universes. Both feature a young strapping white male protagonist with dead parents and remarkable magic powers. (Or, uh, "metaphysical" powers, in Luke's case.) Both feature an old guy who gives advice to the hero, and who then dies by the hand of a black-clad, evil-but-not-really-evil-in-the-end antagonist. Both heroes have a couple of best friends who are male and female that end up dating each other.

Those are broad generalizations, sure -- but it's definitely true that both Star Wars and Harry Potter tell an accessible version of the hero's journey, as seen through a fantasy/sci-fi lens. That may be why both franchises ended up pleasing wide audiences. We, being dorks, like obsessing about the finer points of each universe, whereas casual fans can ignore all of that and sit back to enjoy the action, romance and suspense offered in both tales.

I predict that these the 3-D adaptations of the Star Wars films will be enough of a success to allow Lucas to continue adding on to his mountain of money. His franchise has been around longer and has a fan base that spans several generations. But J.K. Rowling has a trick left in the wizard's hat that could help her catch up: she's now hinting that she would sorta kinda maybe like to keep writing more Harry Potter books.

Unfortunately, I strongly suspect further books would end up being the ones that fans have been begging for: a flashback series about James and Lily's Hogwarts days with the Marauders and the outcast Severus Snape. But HP fans should be careful what they wish for. Who wants to see the equivalent of Jar Jar Binks in a James Potter back-story novel?

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