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Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is keen to exploit the company’s franchises — and that includes the possibility of making more Harry Potter films, if something can be worked out with author J.K. Rowling.
“We’re going to focus on franchises,” Zaslav said during an investor call Thursday. “We haven’t had a Superman movie in 13 years. 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.”
The executive went on to note the studio still has the theatrical rights to Lord of the Rings, and went back around to the idea of more Harry Potter, noting he’d like to see more “if we can do something with J.K. on Harry Potter going forward.”
It’s noteworthy that Zaslav dangled the possibility of more Potter at an investor meeting, with the venue suggesting it was more than just wishful thinking.
Warner Bros. released eight Harry Potter films from 2001 to 2011 that grossed $7.7 billion globally. It partnered with Rowling on the Fantastic Beasts franchise, which has been a case of diminishing returns at the box office. The most recent installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, debuted in April and earned $405.1 million globally. It is unclear if the studio will move forward with the two planned films to round out its five-picture arc.
In the years since Potter, Rowling has become a controversial figure and has been accused of transphobia. Star Daniel Radcliffe has been among those who have responded with support for the trans community in light of tweets and comments Rowling has made.
Zaslav’s overture to Rowling comes after there have been incidents fans interpreted as signs of tension between Warners and the author, which both sides have denied. She was not part of the recent HBO reunion special (she later said she was invited but declined). Earlier, her name was nearly entirely left off the first trailer for Secrets of Dumbledore. The studio put out a statement knocking back reports of discord: “For 20 years, Warner Bros., J.K. Rowling and her team have worked together to delight fans around the world with spectacular storytelling and the magic of the Wizarding World.”
Rowling worked on the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which debuted in 2016. Chris Columbus, the filmmaker behind the very first Potter, has expressed interest in directing an adaptation.
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival