The announcement of a new “Harry Potter” TV series served as the climax of Warner Bros. Discovery’s presentation to press and investors on April 12 to tout the combination of HBO Max and Discovery+ into a new service dubbed simply Max.
During a Q&A with press after the presentation, however, executives were less forthcoming about the involvement of the franchise’s creator, J.K. Rowling. The author, who will be an executive producer on the series, has become an increasingly controversial figure for repeatedly sharing views that trans women are not women, and trans men are not men.
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Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO of HBO and Max content, declined to comment on Rowling’s views when asked how they may affect the ability to find talent for the series.
“No, I don’t think this is the forum,” Bloys said. “That’s a very online conversation, very nuanced and complicated and not something we’re going to get into.”
“Our priority is what’s on the screen,” Bloys continued. “Obviously, the ‘Harry Potter’ story is incredibly affirmative and positive and about love and self-acceptance. That’s our priority — what’s on screen.”
In terms of the TV series, Bloys stated simply: “[Rowling] will be involved. She’s an executive producer on the show. Her insights are going to be helpful on that.”
He continued: “The TV show is new and we’re excited about that, but, remember, we’ve been in the ‘Potter’ business for 20 years. This is not a new decision for us, we’re very comfortable being in the ‘Potter’ business.”
News of a show based on the megahit book series first leaked on April 3, but details have now been confirmed.
“Max’s commitment to preserving the integrity of my books is important to me,” the author said in a press release announcing the show, which noted that the series will be “a faithful adaptation” of Rowling’s seven “Harry Potter” novels. “And I’m looking forward to being part of this new adaptation which will allow for a degree of depth and detail only afforded by a long form television series.”
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the “Potter” series will not preclude any other projects set in the wider Wizarding World franchise.
“We’re free to do anything we want,” Zaslav said. “In some areas, we’d need to do it with J.K., in other areas we have full ability to move forward. So this is a full deployment on the Max platform of ‘Harry Potter.’”
Later in the Q&A, Bloys addressed the potential budget for the “Harry Potter” series, comparing the scale for the show to that of “Game of Thrones” and “House of the Dragon.” In short, the budget will be “whatever it takes to make a quality show,” Bloys said.
Max will produce the series in association with Brontë Film and TV and Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers are Rowling, Neil Blair and Ruth Kenley-Letts, with David Heyman, who produced the “Harry Potter” film series and the “Fantastic Beasts” movies, in talks to return.
The next task is locking in the show’s writing staff and Bloys confirmed those discussions are in the early stages.
“We have been trying to be very close to the vest,” he said, nodding to the fact that news of the series leaked on April 3. “But we haven’t gone out to agencies yet. We have our own internal process where we’ve been thinking about people, but we have not wanted to go out into the world saying, ‘Who do you have?’ But now that the news is out, we will start.”
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