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Warner Bros. Discovery wants to make more 'Harry Potter' movies with J.K. Rowling
The Wizarding World IP is like a Gringotts vault full of unclaimed gold.
Warner Bros. Discovery hopes to conjure up more magic (and gold, of course) with Harry Potter.
Speaking to investors and members of the press on an earnings call this week, CEO David Zaslav affirmed the conglomerate's dedication to multi-billion dollar franchises. “We haven’t had a Superman movie in 13 years," he said (via The Hollywood Reporter). "We haven’t done a Harry Potter in 15 years. The DC movies and the Harry Potter movies provided a lot of the profits for Warner Bros. … over the past 25 years." On the Wizarding World front, Zaslav added: "If we can do something with J.K. on Harry Potter going forward."
It's unclear what the CEO meant by these comments. Does he hope to reboot the lucrative IP with brand-new actors? Are there more prequel adventures in development? Or, perhaps, there's a plan to adapt the Cursed Child stage play? Prior to WB's merger with Discovery earlier this year, it was reported that a Potter television series was in the very early stages at HBO Max. However, it should be noted that Warner Bros. and its in-house streaming platform vehemently denied the existence of any such project.
Warner Bros. Pictures produced eight Potter films between 2001 and 2011 (the final book was split into two blockbuster films). Across its decade-long run, the cinematic franchise grossed over $9 billion worldwide and spawned a multimedia empire of video games, theme parks, traveling exhibitions, and a bottomless beaded bag of licensed merchandise.
A prequel film series — Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — launched in 2016, as the studio announced its intention to make a total of five movies exploring the period of magical turmoil long before Harry and Voldemort came along. To date, only two sequels (The Crimes of Grindelwald and The Secrets of Dumbledore) have been released, albeit with diminishing box office returns.
This is most likely down to a number of factors: Rowling's polarizing status among fans, the recasting of a major character, the COVID-19 pandemic's dampening effect on ticket sales, and a general criticism of overly-convoluted storytelling. Secrets of Dumbledore neatly tied up the story thus far, providing WB with an out if it decides not to move forward on the original plan for more Fantastic Beasts.
Rowling has come under fire in recent years for a number of tweets that have been accused of espousing transphobic views. The author's social media posts and subsequent backlash to them led to an ideological schism among Potter actors like Daniel Radcliffe (who has spoken out in support of the trans community) and Ralph Fiennes (who decried the "righteous anger" of cancel culture).
All eight Harry Potter films are now streaming on Peacock.