Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) may have plans for more Harry Potter movies in the future, but will the controversial creator J.K. Rowling be involved?
For many years, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter franchise was among the biggest in Hollywood after eight successful movies adapting the seven-book series. That era came to an end in 2011 with Deathly Hallows Part 2, but recent years have seen an attempt to resurrect the world in several ways.
2016 proved to be the beginning of a return to the Wizarding World as The Cursed Child stage play debuted and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them began a new prequel saga. There have even since been rumors of more blockbuster efforts including bringing the popular stage play to live-action and an HBO Max series.
But as everything has been going on, Rowling has been the subject of intense controversy for her anti-transgender comments. Although WBD has continued its relationship with the divisive creator through this as she led the Fantastic Beasts franchise, it appears to have more aspirations to work with her again.
Harry Potter's Movie Future Receives Exciting Update
During the latest Warner Bros. Discovery earnings call, CEO David Zaslav teased plans for more Harry Potter movies to be developed in the future, potentially with series creator J.K. Rowling involved despite recent controversy regarding her hateful comments against transgender people.
Zaslav confirmed the studio will have a "real focus on franchises," particularly citing the fact that they "haven't done a Harry Potter movie in 15 years:"
“We’re going to have a real focus on franchises. We haven’t had a Superman movie in 13 years. We haven’t done a Harry Potter movie in 15 years. The DC movies and the Harry Potter movies provided a lot of profits for Warner Bros. Motion Pictures over the last 25 years. One of the big advantages that we have, House of the Dragon, is an example of that with Game of Thrones. Taking advantage of Sex and the City. Lord of the Rings, we still have the rights to do Lord of the Rings movies."
The WBD CEO cited the importance of the franchises that are "understood and loved everywhere in the world:"
"What are the movies that have brands that are understood and loved everywhere in the world? Outside the U.S., in the aggregate of Europe, Latin America, and Asia, it’s about 40% of the theaters that we have here in the U.S., and there’s local content. And so, when you have a franchise movie, you can often make two to three times the amount of money you make in the U.S. because you get a slot, and a focus on the big movies that are loved, that are tentpole, that people are going to leave early from dinner to go to see."
Zaslav noted how the studio has plenty of franchises to work with, while also suggesting the potential to "do something with JK [Rowling] on Harry Potter going forward:"
"And we have a lot of them: Batman, Superman, Aquaman, if we can do something with JK [Rowling] on Harry Potter going forward. Lord of the Rings. What are we doing with Game of Thrones? What are we doing with a lot of the big franchises that we have? We’re focused on franchises."
Warner Bros. previously acknowledged the situation with Rowling in a statement made to the Daily Mail in June 2022. The message expressed the studio's pride to have brought her fantasy series to life "now - and for decades to come:"
"Warner Bros. has enjoyed a creative, productive, and fulfilling partnership with J.K. Rowling for the past 20 years. She is one of the world’s most accomplished storytellers, and we are proud to be the studio to bring her vision, characters, and stories to life now – and for decades to come. On Monday, a statement was issued by a third-party media agency that appeared contrary to this view. The statement was wholly wrong, and Warner Bros. Studio Tour London regrets it happened as part of a media event that day."
Sharing the news, Variety noted that WBD currently has no Wizarding World projects in active development and is not in active discussion with Rowling about developing another Harry Potter movie.
What Will Warner Bros. Do With Harry Potter Next?
Following the news that WBD has no Wizarding World projects in the works, the future appears bleak for the Fantastic Beasts franchise after the critical and financial disappointment of The Secrets of Dumbledore. But that shouldn't come as a huge surprise after the prequel spin-off always struggled to land with fans.
In terms of what Zaslav may be aiming to do next, the CEO was reportedly considering a full "reset" of the Harry Potter franchise. Perhaps this may indicate Zaslav is eyeing a remake of the original seven-book adaptation, something which would undoubtedly be controversial given how iconic the original films were.
Alternatively, the series could simply pick up where it left off with a theatrical remake of The Cursed Child. The divisive stage play picks up nineteen years after The Deathly Hallows, and while enough years haven't passed for the original cast to have aged that much, the decade that has gone by ought to be enough to work.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news in January 2021 that Warner Bros. - before the merger with Discovery - was in early development on a Wizarding World series for HBO Max. The studio was even said to be meeting with writers to begin conceptualizing a television adventure for the franchise.
Although that came before the merger with Discovery brought a change in management and new CEO David Zaslav. That restructure led to a significant change in the streaming strategy with less focus on big-budget HBO Max efforts, so the goal may now be instead to keep the Harry Potter world in theaters.
Whatever the case, any projects in the Wizarding World at WBD are believed to require the approval of Rowling. So, despite the controversy around her, the studio may be forced to continue its relationship with her in order to pursue the franchise, as she is known to be rather protective of the lore she created.
The Harry Potter movies recently returned to HBO Max and are streaming now.