‘The School for Good and Evil’ creator reveals what sets it apart from those other magic school movies

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In our Harry Potter-saturated world, it’s impossible for another piece of media that features a magically inclined educational establishment to avoid being compared to Hogwarts. So folks are probably getting major HP flashbacks from the first teaser trailer for The School for Good and Evil, the upcoming Netflix family fantasy film that, yes, takes place at a castle that’s home to mystical kids. But though they are nominally similar, we can apparently expect some big tonal differences.

Speaking during the School for Good and Evil panel on today’s second day of Geeked Week, author Soman Chainani — who penned the best-selling children’s book upon which the movie is based — revealed what makes his story different from any other magical school narratives that audiences might’ve already seen before. Chainani stressed that it has a whole “different energy” as well as a female-fronted twist on the typical Chosen One (read Chosen Boy) tale. He explained:

“I just have different energy. I feel like I wanted a magical school that felt like a Madonna concert. I wanted this, like, high-female energy that was empowering… ‘Cause it’s always about a boy. It’s time to move on from that and bring forth a powerful female pair. You think of fairy tales, you think of ‘princess’ and ‘witch’. What if they were friends?”

The School for Good and Evil follows two best friends, sunny Sophie (Sophia Ann Caruso) and gloomy Agatha (Sofia Wylie), who are taken to the titular school, which splits its students into two — those destined to be princesses and those doomed to be wicked witches. Against all the odds, Sophie is classed as a “Never” — aka a bad student — while Agatha is put in the “Ever” school for good kids. With their fortunes reversed and their identities in question, the girls’ bond will be severely tested.

One thing director Paul Feig’s flick does have in common with Harry Potter, though, is that it’s assembled an A-list supporting cast to play the school’s teachers. Laurence Fishburne is the School Master, with Michelle Yeoh as Professor Anemone, Kerry Washington as Professor Dovey, and Charlize Theron as Lady Lesso. As glimpsed in the trailer and going by Chainani’s comments, we can expect The School for Good and Evil to offer a fresh spin on both the magic school set-up and the fairy tale genre once it hits Netflix this September.