Could there be a new Harry Potter movie in the future? Warner Bros. Discovery chief executive David Zaslav hints the nation’s No. 2 entertainment company wants to double down on franchise films that have powered profit in previous decades, including mining the Potterverse.
The entertainment executive said the studio needs to return to producing more popcorn movies, especially ones that can lure moviegoers back to theaters. He said streaming — while it may be the industry’s future — still isn’t producing the kind of financial results that can sustain WBD and vowed to keep a handle on content spending.
“We’re focused on franchise movies that we launch in the theater which do significantly better than release it direct to streaming and haven’t helped HBO Max,” Zaslav said. “We have an extraordinary library, with like 15 to 20 series that people love. But, there’s a huge number of movies and series that aren’t being used at all.”
Zaslav added, “What happened to the entire library?” while casting doubt about how previous management regimes managed the Warner Bros. assets. He said there’s been no “Superman” or “Harry Potter” films in more than a decade — “Could we get J.K. to write another Harry Potter?”
Of course, a new Daniel Radcliffe-helmed film would certainly be a major coup for the studio after the franchise has taken in $9.5 billion in ticket sales for eight “Harry Potter” films and three “Fantastic Beasts” prequels. Plans for a film adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” haven’t been announced.
Meanwhile, Rowling also become a bit of a Hollywood outlier during the past few years after the author made a number of anti-transgender comments, which triggered a backlash among many Potter fans and LGBTQ organizations like GLAAD. And while she was still a producer and co-writer on this year’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” it’s unclear how involved Rowling will be on future Potter projects.
A spokesman for Rowling did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Zaslav’s public flirtation with Rowling comes after a pretty tough time between the studio and the author. The company’s HBO reunion special for the franchise did not include her (Rowling said she declined). Meanwhile, the trailer for the latest “Fantastic Beasts” pretty much didn’t mention the book series.
The company tried to extinguish that controversy by issuing a statement that “for 20 years, Warner Bros., J.K. Rowling and her team have worked together to delight fans around the world with spectacular storytelling and the magic of the Wizarding World.” And there have been reports that Chris Columbus, who directed the first film, said he’d like a crack at directing an adaptation to Rowling’s “Cursed Child” play that came out in 2016.
The seven “Harry Potter” books, which have sold over 500 million copies, has been translated into over 80 languages. It became a global phenomenon in not just ticket and book sales, but merchandise, theme park attractions, and other businesses for Warner Bros.
Radcliffe blasted Rowling in recent months, saying the author’s polarizing remarks about transgender rights where hurtful to fans of both the films and books. The “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” star condemned the author who has become a billionaire since “Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone” debuted in 1997 and then made into a box office champion a few years later.
She upset fans in 2020 by mocking men and women who menstruate in a series of tweets that sparked a fierce backlash in the transgender and queer communities, as well as their allies. Radcliffe replied by posting an essay on the website of The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ suicide prevention organization.
“While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment,” Radcliffe declared in the essay.
“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I,” he added.