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The 'Harry Potter' franchise may be a massive cash cow for Warner Bros., but the studio is not resting on its laurels when it comes to looking for its successor. With 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II' bringing that venerated series to a close in late 2012, WB execs have already signed on a new fantasy saga that they hope will rake in more green: 'Beautiful Creatures,' the first in a five-book series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The 'Harry Potter' franchise may be a massive cash cow for Warner Bros., but the studio is not resting on its laurels when it comes to looking for its successor. With 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II' bringing that venerated series to a close in late 2012, WB execs have already signed on a new fantasy saga that they hope will rake in more green: 'Beautiful Creatures,' the first in a five-book series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

'Beautiful Creatures' focuses on Ethan Wate, a popular, South Carolina high school student who becomes witched by Lena Duchanne, a 16 year-old grappling with a family curse and budding supernatural powers. The first book is being released today by Little, Brown & Co.

Richard LaGravanese will be writing and directing the film. He is known for fulfilling writer-director duties on 'P.S. I Love You' and 'Living Out Loud,' and also co-penned the third 'Narnia' movie 'Voyage Of The Dawn Treader,' which is currently filming. So he has experience with both female-driven and fantasy films, which is the right combination needed here. Erwin Stoff ('The Blind Side,' 'I Am Legend') will produce.

LaGravenese told Variety that he loves supernatural stories "that have well-drawn mythologies," and he likes how 'Beautiful Creatures' gives first love a supernatural sheen. "The first time they hear the words 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend,' they accidentally overhear each other telepathically," he explained of the story's two protagonists. "Their first kiss comes after he saves her life, and their first date is part of a bigger adventure that leads to the unraveling of the mysterious curse that haunts her family." (Shouldn't all first dates be like that? OK, perhaps not.)

Will the witch world of 'Beautiful Creatures' enchant audiences in the way that J.K. Rowling's beloved saga has? It's hard to say, but it probably will not be as big as the 'Potter' films. That's a rare feat. But that doesn't mean 'Beautiful Creatures' won't mine box office gold, especially if the book takes off.

Still, 'Harry Potter' was an established property when it began its transition to the silver screen. It had won numerous awards overseas and achieved solid sales before Warner Bros. snagged the rights just as the first book was being released in the U.S. As far as 'Lord Of The Rings,' that was a legendary literary masterpiece. And despite the fact that fantasy films usually end up topping all-time box office figures, the second 'Narnia' movie fizzled faster than expected, while the middling American success of 'The Golden Compass' did not exactly scream sequel, even though two books are left in the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy.

Fantasy films are a tricky business. They can cost a bundle, but also rake in plenty of cash, too. We'll have to wait to see if 'Beautiful Creatures' will continue feeding the strong, current appetite for female-friendly fantasy fare in the same way that 'Twilight' and 'Harry Potter' have. Warner Bros. is undoubtedly hoping so.