On November 3, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Q3 Earnings Conference Call took place, where different executives of the company spoke with investors and not only did they talk about the past but also about the future of the company.
In the call, David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, mentioned the Harry Potter franchise and J.K. Rowling. He began by saying that “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. What the — the DC movies and Harry Potter movies provided a lot of the profits of Warner Brothers Motion Pictures over the last 25 years.”
First of all, it would appear that Zaslav is already four years in the future, as the last Superman movie was 9 years ago (Man of Steel, 2013), while the last Harry Potter movie was 11 years ago (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 2011). It is interesting to note that for Davis Zaslav, the Fantastic Beasts films are not part of the Harry Potter franchise, even though they do belong to the Wizarding World. Would he have made the differentiation because of how they were received, both critically and audience-wise, or simply because of the characters and the story they tell?
“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., […] and we have a lot of them; Batman, Superman, Aquaman. If we can do something with JK on Harry Potter going forward, Lord of the Rings, what are we doing with Game of Thrones? What are we doing witha lot of the big franchises that we have? We’re focused on franchises.”
The CEO mentioned several franchises (DC superheroes, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings), but the only one he gave a condition was Harry Potter: “If we can do something with JK”. Why is this so important?
First of all, it confirms again what we assumed: that the author is still in control of Harry Potter. Warner Bros. can’t do anything without her approval. Zaslav is very clear on that: no matter how much Warner Bros. wants to do something, it must first negotiate with J.K. Rowling.
Secondly, and what Zaslav implies, is that the will on the Warner Bros. side exists: WB wants to do more Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Lord of the Rings movies, and also wants to do more Harry Potter stuff. But it would seem that Rowling doesn’t, or at least she’s not entirely convinced.
Is this a new situation? It doesn’t seem so. Despite press releases from both the author’s team and Warner Bros. itself announcing that the relationship between the two was going great guns, Rowling hasn’t given many friendly nods to the big company. Beyond her null participation in the promotion of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (apart from being present for a few brief minutes at the avant premiere, she has not participated in any other action, nor has she mentioned it on Twitter, for example). Moreover, Rowling has not spoken in any activity related to the films, and only had a brief appearance (from archive, in fact) for the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone20th anniversary.
Everything would seem to indicate then that a possible new film or TV series from the Harry Potter world would be solely up to J.K. Rowling, and it makes sense. Despite the lack of interest in Fantastic Beasts, Warner Bros. knows that the Harry Potter brand is still powerful and a new product would have the audience they want. But for that, they must first convince the author. This wouldn’t be so farfetched: if Rowling has any sort of grudge with Warner Bros. it would be with the previous leadership, and not with Zaslav, who took over a few months ago and would have to meet with J.K. Rowling and demonstrate his support.
However, according to Variety1, all this would be in the future. The media company assures that “There are no active discussions currently with Rowling about developing another ‘Harry Potter’ movie, according to a source at the studio. There is also currently nothing in ‘the Wizarding World’ in active development at Warner Bros., including of both the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise and ‘Fantastic Beasts’ IP.”If Variety’s sources are correct, rumors that Warner Bros. was working on a Harry Potter series (which, by the way, are rumors that started in 2020) would not be true. Moreover, it would seem that The Secrets of Dumbledore would also be the end of the Fantastic Beasts saga, leaving it truncated without its promised parts 4 and 5. Could that also be the reason why J.K. Rowling, who announced with great fanfare five films of her authorship, is angry with the studio?
All we know for now is that Davis Zaslav, the new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, wants more Harry Potter content. And that’s good news, as long as J.K. Rowling, who created the boy wizard, also wants more. But that remains to be seen.