The rumors are true: A Harry Potter series is in the works, with the seven original books being remade into a new streaming TV show with an entirely new cast. Author J.K. Rowling will oversee the show as an executive producer.
The announcement came Tuesday as part of Warner Bros. Discovery’s rebranding of HBO Max into a new service known only as Max. Whispers about the Harry Potter project had been circulating for a week, but this makes it official. The company promised a “faithful” adaptation of Rowling’s novels, which first hit bookstores in 1997. The first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone debuted in 2001, and the last one, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 wrapped up the series in 2011.
While the original movies hew closely to her books, Rowling said the appeal of the Harry Potter series will be drawing out the story of each novel even further over the course of a whole season, going into details that might otherwise be cut for a two-hour-plus movie. “Max’s commitment to preserving the integrity of my books is important to me, 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,” the author said in a statement.
Two decades have done little to dim the appeal of the Wizarding world. Since then, Rowling began exploring the 1930s era of her universe with the Fantastic Beasts prequel films, and wrote a stage play called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that chronicled her main potter characters in middle age. Meanwhile, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has become a global theme park attraction for Universal Studios. Just this year, the video game Hogwarts Legacy became a best-seller with gameplay that immerses fans in the magical universe of the late 1800s.
While the stories and characters remain beloved, Rowling herself has become a polarizing figure due to her outspokenness about gender issues on social media. The author has been labeled transphobic by critics for comments she has made opposing rhetorical terms like “people who menstruate” that some organizations see as more inclusive than the word “woman.” Rowling has characterized this as a form of erasure.
Rowling has also opposed self-ID regulations that she says would allow trans women into women’s prisons or shelters for rape and abuse survivors. Rowling, who has said the issue is personal to her because she once escaped an abusive Relationship, maintains that these spaces should be restricted to natal females, but her critics say her views are close-minded and harm the trans community by reinforcing the notion they are “predators.”
Rowling maintains that she has been misunderstood and holds no animosity towards trans people, tweeting that she supports their rights to live freely. But her critics say her statements threaten a vulnerable community, embolden efforts to pass transphobic legislation, and enflame those with bigoted views. She has written an essay explaining her perspective, and trans activists have responded to her various comments with intense critiques. One trans fan began making videos rebinding the books to exclude Rowling’s name. Among the author’s critics are original Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, who said: “I’ve met so many queer and trans kids and young people who had a huge amount of identification with Potter. Seeing them hurt on that day I was like, I wanted them to know that not everybody in the franchise felt that way.”
Despite the nearly unending discourse, little reconciliation has happened since the controversy began. Rowling and her opponents have remained fiercely combative on the matter, leading to boycott efforts toward anything Potter-related.
Casey Bloys, content chief for the new Max service, sidestep questions about the controversy. “Our priority is what’s on screen,” he said. “Obviously the Harry Potter story is incredibly affirmative and positive and about love and self-acceptance.”