A trip back to Hogwarts may be on the horizon, as Warner Bros. is reportedly nearing a deal to set up a Harry Potter television series at HBO Max. While the deal has not yet been finalized, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling is said to be spearheading development, and is close to boarding the series as a producer along with Warner Bros. Television.
Details are slim, but according to Bloomberg, each season of the in-the-works series will be based on one of Rowling‘s seven Harry Potter books. This likely means that there will be new stories emerging that coincide with the events of the books – and subsequent films. Bloomberg reported that Warner Bros. and HBO are hoping to “delve further into the world of Rowling’s books” by creating extended plotlines within each season. Both Warner Bros‘ CEO David Zaslav and HBO Max boss Casey Bloys have been working to get Rowling involved with the project. If the deal is finalized, it would be the first time since 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 that Rowling has signed off on a film or television adaptation from the Harry Potter universe, though she did write and co-produce the three Fantastic Beasts spinoff films.
The Harry Potter films starred Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, but it is unclear if any of the three would be returning for the upcoming series – or if the show would involve any of their characters at all. What is clear is that despite Rowling being involved with development, she would not act as the showrunner or serve as its main creator, Bloomberg reported. Rather, the author will serve as a producer to ensure that the overall vision of the show remains loyal to her original books. News of the show comes as Warner Bros. is looking to create a new streaming strategy based on existing IPs, and the company has reportedly been on the fringes of developing a Harry Potter TV show for a number of years as it prepares to create a unified streaming service featuring content from HBO and Discovery.
It is possible that the series may have a shadow cast over it due to Rowling‘s involvement, as the author has generated controversy over the years for some of her outspoken views against the transgender community. This includes controversial tweets about transgender women, including her belief that “erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives” in regards to the transgender community. Rowling later stated that she believes in “every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” but later continued making similarly anti-LGBTQ remarks and has penned essays disparaging transgender people. Many in the Harry Potter universe have taken to criticizing her rhetoric, including Radcliffe, Watson, Grint, and Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne.
These continued controversies around her LGBTQ beliefs has not boded well for Rowling‘s bank account. A recent report emerged that Brontë Film and TV, a production company in which Rowling is a majority shareholder, saw a 74% dip in profits. Brontë‘s subsidiary, Harry Potter Theatrical Productions, helms the Broadway spinoff Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and while some of this slip can be attributed to the stoppage of plays during COVID-19, the show had reopened by 2021, meaning at least a chunk of that profit loss occured after the play’s return – and amidst Rowling‘s controversial comments. So it is likely that these ongoing contoversies are not helping Rowling, and it remains to be seen how the public will react to this new series.