Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is working on a deal to create a seven-season Harry Potter television series, Bloomberg reported. The show would dive further into the books and appear on HBO Max, a streaming platform owned by the company. But J.K. Rowling, the franchise’s creator, has yet to sign off on the series.
David Zaslav, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO, has talked about expanding the Harry Potter franchise since November 2022, when he brought it up on an earnings call with analysts. The company intends to take full advantage of the intellectual property it owns, including Harry Potter, he said on another earnings call in February of this year. Zaslav and HBO head Casey Bloys have reportedly worked to convince Rowling to give her necessary approval.
A Harry Potter television series could be a huge money maker for Warner Bros. Its eight films earned more than $7 billion at the box office. Its Fantastic Beasts series, three films that take place in the same Wizarding World, added another $1.87 billion. Additional revenue streams—including a Broadway show, Universal Resort park, video game and book sales—make the franchise worth more than $25 billion, according to Statista.
It isn’t clear how many Harry Potter fans there are, but given that the books have sold more than 500 million copies and been translated into 80 languages, there’s a clear demand for Harry Potter content. The first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, sold 120 million copies alone. By comparison, Warner Bros. has a total of 96 million subscribers across HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+. If Warner Bros. can sway consumers to subscribe to HBO Max to watch a Harry Potter television series, it could be a huge boost for the streaming platform, which still isn’t profitable.
While Harry Potter fans might want to watch a series that pays closer attention to the books, some might prefer the original cast, setting and score. Others don’t want to keep financially supporting J.K. Rowling, who has posted controversial statements about the transgender community in recent years.
this is going to completely bomb and not even for any culture war reasons related to jk rowling, theres just no way your average harry potter obsessed person will care about this without the original cast https://t.co/v4MuU4V0jO
— pudding person (@JUNlPER) April 3, 2023
Several book-turned-movie-turned-television series have emerged in recent years. Amazon Prime Video released The Rings of Power, the prequel series to the Lord of the Rings books and films, in 2022. The first season cost Amazon $715 million to make but reportedly struggled to retain an audience. The Rings of Power told a new story in the same world rather than retelling the original narrative, which Warner Bros. appears to be leaning towards with Harry Potter. The Fantastic Beasts films, in which the plot occurs before the original Harry Potter series starts, similarly didn’t gain the same traction.
Netflix also reimagined The Lincoln Lawyer, a book series, last year and released a television series based on the second book in May—which topped the company’s charts the following week with 1.85 billion minutes watched.