If 2020 taught us anything (y’know, besides the lesson that nobody how bad things are, they can get worse) it’s that streaming is the future. While cinemas and film studios are scrambling for their lives, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video boomed during the pandemic. And Warner Bros. also threw its hat in the ring in a big way by announcing that it would release its entire 2021 lineup of films on fledgeling sister-streaming service HBO Max on the same day as in cinemas. But that’s just for this year. What about after that? Well, the studio may have found a way to keep the magic going on HBO Max thanks to Harry Potter.
Both THR and Variety, two of Hollywood’s oldest and most reliable trades. are reporting that a live-action TV series set in the Wizarding World franchise is the “extremely early” stages of development for HBO Max. What that means is that execs for HBO Max and parent company WarnerMedia have “engaged in meetings to find a writer and pitch for a Harry Potter TV series”, but at this stage “no writers or talent are currently attached” and “no deals have been made”. In fact, when reached out for comment by THR, HBO Max and WarnerMedia both responded that “There are no Harry Potter series in development at the studio or on the streaming platform”.
Of course, studios lie about these things all the time. And this makes complete sense. We know that WarnerMedia has already said it would leverage its movie franchises for HBO Max content, and the Harry Potter film series – the original 8-film series having earned over $7 billion total – still remains one of the most lucrative entries in its lineup. Although, it’s produced more controversy than cash as of late.
This was mainly thanks to J.K. Rowling, author of the original books which WB adapted and the screenwriter for the recent Fantastic Beasts prequel films, and the transphobic public statements she made, drawing backlash not only from the trans community but even the now grown-up Harry Potter films cast. On top of that, there’s the total PR nightmare that was swirling around Johnny Depp and his messy divorce with Amber Heard. Depp was recently replaced in his role of Gellert Grindelwald by Mads Mikkelsen for the upcoming third Fantastic Beasts films.
Even with that controversy though, just the thought of more Harry Potter adventures is sure to get fans excited. That’s if it’s more Harry Potter adventures. All reports indicate that at this early stage it’s uncertain if this series will be re-adapting the Harry Potter books for the small screen, provide supplemental adventures set in the continuity of the movies, or do something completely different set in the Wizarding World with unrelated characters.
There’s one major hurdle other than creative direction though. As THR reveals, the rights to the franchise are also very complicated. Rowling is the overall owner and has a say in everything, but the various broadcast, digital, and theme park rights are split between WB and NBCUniversal with the latter’s deal only expiring in 2025. This is why you actually can’t find the Harry Potter films on HBO Max at the moment. They were only there for the first three months of the service before being pulled and will instead show up on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service when it launches. All of this makes the actual possibility of a Harry Potter series on HBO Max start to look very nebulous unless some… magic happens.
Last Updated: January 26, 2021