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It’s official: A Harry Potter TV series is coming to the streaming service formerly known as HBO Max.
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has revealed plans for a live-action TV series based on controversial author J.K. Rowling’s beloved books. Zaslav made the announcement Wednesday morning during a presentation that revealed how streamers HBO Max and Discovery+ would be integrated. As expected, HBO Max has also officially been rebranded and is now simply called “Max.”
Here’s how the series is described by Max: “The stories from each of Rowling’s Harry Potter books will become a decade-long series produced with the same epic craft, love and care this global franchise is known for. The series will feature a new cast to lead a new generation of fandom, full of the fantastic detail, much loved characters and dramatic locations that Harry Potter fans have loved for over 25 years. Each season will be authentic to the original books and bring Harry Potter and these incredible adventures to new audiences around the world, while the original, classic and beloved films will remain at the core of the franchise and available to watch globally.”
The series hails from Warner Bros. TV and Bronte Film and TV, and counts Rowling, Neil Blair and Ruth Kenley-Letts among its exec producers. David Heyman, who produced all eight feature films, is in talks to exec produce. A search for a writer and showrunner continues.
“We are delighted to give audiences the opportunity to discover Hogwarts in a whole new way,” said Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO, HBO & Max Content. “Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon and it is clear there is such an enduring love and thirst for the Wizarding World. In partnership with Warner Bros. Television and J.K. Rowling, this new Max Original series will dive deep into each of the iconic books that fans have continued to enjoy for all of these years.”
Said Rowling, “Max’s commitment to preserving the integrity of my books is important to me, and I’m looking forward to being part of this new adaptation which will allow for a degree of depth and detail only afforded by a long-form television series.”
A live-action Harry Potter TV series has been in the works since early 2021, when The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported that multiple ideas were in the exploratory stages. Meetings with writers have been underway ever since.
Following the Max presentation, Bloys said the Harry Potter TV series budget will be commensurate with those of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, with the latter’s first season clocking in at $125 million. “[It] will be that scale or higher. Whatever it takes to make a quality show,” Bloys said when asked about the show’s potential cost.
WBD execs also said the new series will not preclude them from doing other projects in the vast world of Harry Potter. “We’re free to do anything we want,” Zaslav said. “Some areas we need to do with J.K., other areas we have the full ability to go forward. This is a full deployment on Max of Harry Potter. We can still develop other properties.”
Asked specifically about Rowling’s controversial remarks on transgender individuals, Bloys declined to comment and instead stressed that her Harry Potter stories are indeed inclusive. “J.K. is an executive producer, and her insights will be helpful. We are in the Harry Potter business. The TV show is new and exciting, but we’ve been in the Harry Potter business for 20 years; this isn’t a new decision,” said Bloys, who is gay. “We’re comfortable being in the Potter business. J.K. is a very online conversation … it’s very nuanced and complicated and not something we’re going to get into. Our priority is what’s onscreen. The Harry Potter story is incredibly affirmative and positive about love and acceptance, and that’s our priority, what’s on the screen.”
The interest in bringing Harry Potter to TV has grown in recent months after Warner Bros. and Discovery merged. Zaslav, who oversees the combined company, has repeatedly expressed interest in doing more with the beloved franchise about the boy wizard.
Speaking to investors in November, Zaslav said that franchises would be a key area of focus for WBD. He noted at the time that the company hasn’t done anything with Harry Potter in 15 years and expressed hope that the company could do more with Rowling. After extensive negotiations, Rowling will be involved as an exec producer on the Harry Potter series, though she is not expected to have day-to-day control or contribute writing as she controls the rights to the property.
The Channing Dungey-led Warner Bros. TV will be the studio on the series.
The Harry Potter franchise is one of the cornerstones of Warner Bros. Rowling’s seven-book series was adapted as eight feature films that together grossed more than $7 billion worldwide. Warners also has the Fantastic Beasts films and a Harry Potter stage show. More recently, Warners has found success with the Harry Potter 20th anniversary reunion for HBO Max (which did not involve Rowling) as well as a quiz show for TBS.
The Harry Potter franchise has had complicated rights issues. Rowling controls the franchise and has a say in everything involving the property. NBCUniversal in 2016 inked a rich seven-year rights deal with Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution that included U.S. broadcast, cable and streaming rights to the Wizarding World franchise. That deal, which ends in April 2025, included digital initiatives as well as theme park content and events. The pact also meant Warners execs had to make a side deal that allowed all of the Harry Potter features to briefly stream on HBO Max when the service originally launched. The films now stream on both Peacock and Max.
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