Warner Bros. Pictures are seemingly willing to make a new Harry Potter movie. From Discovery’s purchase of its parent company, WarnerMedia, to the budget cuts that followed, and the losses reported ahead of an earnings call on Thursday, the studio’s future looks fuzzy. Any kind of cultural revival, according to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, starts with franchises — and involves making a whole lot more of them.
New Harry Potter movie will be produced?
During that earnings call, Zaslav explained his plans for the company to prioritize its biggest franchises:
Focus on the big movies that are loved, that are tentpoles, that people are going to leave early from dinner to go to see — and we have a lot of them. Batman, Superman, Aquaman, if we can do something with J.K. [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.
“Do something with J.K.” could mean that Zaslav wants to remove Rowling from the series’ theatrical future, or that WB simply has ambition to broker a new deal with the Harry Potter writer. As it stands, it’s a potentially troubling statement, considering the once-beloved author’s consistent remarks that many have deemed transphobic. Zaslav did not specify what, creatively, Rowling has to offer the Harry Potter series other than to say that the franchise is ripe for a continuation. It is possible Rowling could be replaced, with a version of ‘The Cursed Child’ play becoming a film.
The CEO also said to investors that the studio hasn’t “done a Harry Potter movie in 15 years.” That isn’t exactly true. WB is technically in the middle of a new Harry Potter franchise right now with the Fantastic Beasts series, which is being written and overseen by Rowling herself.
While the first Fantastic Beasts movie — which, of the three released so far, happens to be the one that’s least directly connected to the original Potter story — made a killing at the box office, the other two have struggled to amass American viewership. The Crimes of Grindelwald couldn’t match its predecessor’s highs in 2018, and The Secrets of Dumbledore was a bomb earlier this year, failing to even reach $100 million at the domestic box office.
Warner Bros. retains the rights to the Harry Potter universe in conjunction with Rowling herself. Any future Potter projects would have to go through her, and her company, as well as the studio. But beyond agreeing to let WB produce more movies, it doesn’t seem that Rowling adds too much value to this series — because right now, it’s unclear what the “Harry Potter franchise” ultimately is.