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‘Harry Potter’ Live-Action TV Series in Early Development at HBO Max (Exclusive)

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 1/25/2021 Lesley Goldberg

Accio, Harry Potter writers.

A Harry Potter live-action TV series is in early development at HBO Max. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that executives at the WarnerMedia-backed streamer have engaged in multiple conversations with potential writers exploring various ideas that would bring the beloved property to television. Sources say broad ideas have been discussed as part of the early-stage exploratory meetings.

While it’s news that executives at HBO Max and Warners are engaged in meetings to find a writer and pitch for a Harry Potter TV series, no writers or talent are currently attached as the conversations are still in the extremely early stages and no deals have been made. “There are no Harry Potter series in development at the studio or on the streaming platform,” HBO Max and Warner Bros. reaffirmed in a statement to THR.

Expanding the world of Harry Potter remains a top priority for HBO Max and Warner Bros., which along with creator J.K. Rowling, controls rights to the property. Harry Potter is one of Warners’ most valuable pieces of IP. (It’s also worth pointing out that while Harry Potter remains a beloved franchise, Rowling sparked backlash from the trans community after saying that transgender individuals should be defined by their biological sex.)

News that talks are underway for a Harry Potter TV series should come as no surprise given the value of the franchise to Warner Bros. Rowling’s seven-book series was adapted as eight feature films that grossed more than $7 billion worldwide. Warners also has the Fantastic Beasts prequel series of films, with the third set to bow next year and two more likely to come afterward.

The plans for a Harry Potter TV series should be seen as a rightful extension of the property at a time when WarnerMedia (like other conglomerates) is prioritizing its streaming service. HBO Max launched last year and is the home all of the company’s most valuable intellectual property. The platform is the streaming home of DC Comics films, with multiple TV spinoffs and originals already in the works. The streamer is also the home of mega-hit Friends (with a reunion planned to film in March for the service), Game of Thrones and all of HBO’s originals, including Sex and the City. The latter was recently revived with three of its original stars returning for a new TV series as HBO Max leans into its IP to become a must-have subscription service. (It’s also worth noting that HBO is building out its Game of Thrones arsenal with multiple other projects in the works, all of which would eventually live on HBO Max.)

The Harry Potter franchise has 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 launched last May. The films left the service after three months and will return to NBCUniversal’s recently launched streamer, Peacock, at a date to be determined later this year.

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