Executives at HBO Max have been meeting with writers about a possible Harry Potter TV series, according to a new story in The Hollywood Reporter. Sources told THR these conversations have been “broad,” part of “early-stage exploratory” sessions. With the streaming site essentially taking pitches without any specific focus, the entire history of the Wizarding World could be in play. The show could explore any era of magic; that includes prequels spanning any time over a thousand years, or a new adaption of the novels. And even potentially a sequel set after The Deathly Hallows. But no matter when the series takes place, it will be clouded by the same problems facing all things Potter—J.K. Rowling’s involvement.
HBO Max has always felt like a natural landing spot for a long-wished for Harry Potter series. In a crowded marketplace, a worldwide phenomenon with a built-in audience is the perfect opportunity to draw in subscribers. Even this report, which lacks specifics about what kinds of ideas the service is listening to or who is pitching them, will generate interest. If anything, the ambiguity will be half the fun for fans who have been clamoring for a TV series for years.
With WarnerMedia seemingly open to multiple pitches, the series could focus on any era. It might go way back for a prequel set hundreds of years earlier. The Fantastic Beasts series has already shown Warner Bros. is open to period pieces. But Hogwarts’ founding alone dates back to 990 CE. That’s nearly a millennium of student stories before you get to characters we have met. If executives want to remain closer to the stories we already know, it could finally deliver the episodic adventures of the Marauders many have hoped for too.
It’s also possible a series could offer an all-new adaptations of the novels. The eight Harry Potter movies excluded many storylines from the books. A TV show, which could spend eight to 12 hours or more on just one novel, would be a way to bring the full story to the screen.
Or HBO Max could look to the future. The only real story that follows The Deathly Hallows is the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It provides a look at what happened to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and their children. However, thanks to time travel, it’s still intimately tied to the events of the original novels. A sequel show, whether Harry were prominently involved or not, would move the franchise forward, where new characters and threats could be explored.
Great arguments can be made for many eras. And it’s one all fans would love to be having. Unfortunately, the bigger question is whether or not this project is a good idea at all.
For years a Harry Potter series seemed like a no-brainer. That’s no longer the case. The franchise, which recently fired Johnny Depp, has yet to fully deal with J.K. Rowling’s consistent transphobic messaging. The author has continued to double-down on this position amid widespread criticism, including from many formerly devoted fans, as well as cast members from the Harry Potter movies. Rowling will be involved with—and profit from—any TV series based on her books. Have her views eroded the built-in audience enough that the IP isn’t as valuable anymore? Would the inevitable backlash to promoting Rowling’s creation be a net negative for HBO Max even if the series is good?
None of that will likely matter unless WarnerMedia accepts an actual pitch and starts filming. But so long as they’re taking meetings, any Harry Potter project will, rightfully, have to face these questions. They won’t disappear by magic.
Featured Image: Warner Bros.