‘Harry Potter’ at 20: A look back at ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ (2003)

(For the 20th anniversary of "Harry Potter," I'm looking back at the books and films of J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World saga.)

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‘Harry Potter’ at 20: A look back at ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ (2000)

(For the 20th anniversary of "Harry Potter," I'm looking back at the books and films of J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World saga.)

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‘Harry Potter’ at 20: A look back at ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ (1999)

(For the 20th anniversary of "Harry Potter," I'm looking back at the books and films of J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World saga.)

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‘Harry Potter’ at 20: A look back at ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ (1998)

(For the 20th anniversary of "Harry Potter," I'm looking back at the books and films of J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World saga.)

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‘Harry Potter’ at 20: A look back at ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ (1997)

(On this 20th anniversary of the day J.K. Rowling introduced Harry Potter to the world, I take a look back at "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." I'll have posts on all the books and movies throughout this anniversary year.)

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‘Terminator’ flashback: ‘Terminator Salvation: Trial By Fire’ (2010)

In some ways, spinoff novel authors have less freedom than movie writers. For example, we know Timothy Zahn is not going to kill off John Connor in "Trial By Fire" (July 2010). On the other hand, as "Salvation's" John Brancato reveals in a blog post, screenwriters can be handcuffed, particularly on blockbuster movies, owing to the perception that simpler stories draw wider audiences. As such, his idea that John Connor be replaced with a Terminator/human hybrid at the film's end was scrapped.

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‘Terminator’ flashback: ‘Terminator Salvation: Cold War’ (2009)

Greg Cox's "Cold War" (October 2009) is the first spinoff material to come out after "Terminator Salvation," but it's actually another prequel story, like "From the Ashes" and "Sand in the Gears." The major tie-in to the film is the backstory of General Losenko; his story in the wake of J-Day alternates chapters with that of an Alaskan Resistance group right before "Salvation."

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'Terminator' flashback: 'Terminator Salvation' movie, novelization and comic book (2009)

The very first "Terminator" spinoff materials – the Now comics – explored the Future War, but aside from flashbacks/flash-forwards, it took another two decades for the Future War to be explored on screen. This makes "Terminator Salvation" (2009) stand out among the saga's screen incarnations, even though the plot points and themes will be familiar to readers of the spinoff materials, particularly Dark Horse Comics' early 1990s work.

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‘Terminator’ flashback: ‘Terminator Salvation: From the Ashes’ (2009)

Even as Fox deemed the "Terminator" franchise not popular enough to renew "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" for a third season, the movie wing of the franchise was betting the TV network was wrong. From the ashes of "Chronicles" rose the "Terminator Salvation" franchise, which would eventually rank second only to the "T2" franchise in pumping out the most spinoff materials. I personally don't think it was better than "Chronicles," but apparently it was more commercially successful, or at least more aggressive. ("TSCC" spawned no spinoff materials at all.)

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My top 40 ‘Star Wars’ books for the 40th anniversary: The top 10

After at least 160 novels (more if you delve into children's books) from 1976-2014, the Expanded Universe ended a few years ago, but it's not forgotten, and these 10 books stand the test of time. On the 40th anniversary of "Star Wars," let's take a look back at these classics, counting down to the all-time best "Star Wars" novel.

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