What do you do if you the person you really want to go into business with has a habit of spouting hateful nonsense? That’s the question Warner Bros. Discovery execs have to ask themselves after revealing they are indeed, as predicted, launching a Harry Potter show — with input from J.K. Rowling. On one hand, Rowling has added “incorrigible anti-trans lunatic” to her CV. On the other, she owns the rights to her money-gobbling creation. WB Discovery’s solution? Just try not to talk about the first part.
As per Variety, after the epic presentation that unveiled a weird new name change for HBO Max, a bunch of new shows, and more, Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO of HBO and Max content, took some questions. One, inevitably, was about how Rowling has caught the ire of even the most ardent Potter fanatics and driven stars of the original films to do things like lend a helping hand to trans youth. But Bloys knew how to handle the query, mostly by dancing around it.
“No, I don’t think this is the forum,” Bloys replied. “That’s a very online conversation, very nuanced and complicated and not something we’re going to get into.”
But Bloys did get into it, sort of. “Our priority is what’s on the screen,” Bloys said. “Obviously, the ‘Harry Potter’ story is incredibly affirmative and positive and about love and self-acceptance. That’s our priority — what’s on screen.”
As for how involved Rowling will be, Bloys said, simply, that she “will be involved. She’s an executive producer on the show. Her insights are going to be helpful on that.” She added, “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.”
The Potter show isn’t some prequel, like the middling Fantastic Beasts series, which all but fizzled out by its third entry. It’s going back to the original books, with each season tackling one of the books, treating them to greater detail than could be afforded in a two-hours-and-change movie film.
Will Rowling’s involvement create controversy over the show? Definitely. Will tons of people watch it anyway. Almost certainly. But the news added a dark cloud to what should have been a triumphant day. And then at the end of the day, almost as an ominous sign, Warner Bros. Discovery’s stock took a dip.