Max aiming to release Harry Potter series in 2026, J.K. Rowling "thrilled"

Max is readying a Harry Potter TV show, which is a long time coming. The involvement of original author J.K. Rowling complicates things.
Photo: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.. Image Courtesy Jam City
Photo: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.. Image Courtesy Jam City /

Max is working on a TV show adaptation of the Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling. The show will adapt all seven books in the original series over the course of about a decade, potentially introducing this story to a new generation that wasn't around when the books became a phenomenon in the '90s or when the movies became a phenomenon in the '00s. The story of the boy wizard Harry Potter always puts butts in seats, which is why I'm not too flustered about this show existing in the first place; it was too inevitable to get mad over.

Speaking on an earnings call, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said that the company is "aiming" to debut the series in 2026, according to TV Line. Between this and the new Game of Thrones prequel show A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, Max is stockpiling some high-profile franchises.

We don't know anything about casting yet, but we're as curious as anyone else who's going to play characters like Harry, Ron and Hermione, so we'll be keeping an eye out. We also don't know who will serve as showrunner, but Zaslav did mention a recent meeting of the minds between some of the people involved in the show. "I was in London a few weeks ago with [HBO and Max head] Casey [Bloys] and [Warner Bros. TV boss] Channing [Dungey] and we spent some real time with J.K. [Rowling] and her team," he said. "Both sides are thrilled to be reigniting this franchise. Our conversations were great, and we couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead."

J.K. Rowling: Asset or PR nightmare?

The choice to actively involve Rowling in these talks, and to discuss it openly, is interesting, since in recent years she's become best known as a public transphobic thought leader. There was a long wind-up, but things really got heated in 2020, when she published a lengthy essay where she misgendered trans people, implied that they’re dangerous or confused, and generally peddled in alarmist stereotypes disproven with a glance at the research or just by talking to trans people about their experiences. Since then, she's taken an even harder line, regularly going on screeds on Twitter, referring to trans women as "trans-identified male[s]," and generally letting this issue subsume her public persona. Speaking of trying to attract a new generation to Harry Potter, at this point there probably is a group of young people who know Rowling better as a bigot than an author.

Rowling shows no sign of altering her course, so again, it feels odd that Zaslav is touting her involvement in the show as a selling point, particularly when there's a model for how to make a successful Harry Potter project without involving the openly bigoted creator. Hogwarts Legacy became one of the most successful video games of 2023 even though the developers of that game took pains to point out that Rowling had no role in its creator and even went so far as to include a trans character in a minor role. A Harry Potter show may be inevitable — there's too much money to be made — but it doesn't have to involve Rowling. And given how toxic her persona has become, I don't think it should.

I guess Zaslav is betting that J.K. Rowling's presence will benefit the Harry Potter show more than hurt it. Or maybe he's hoping for conservatives to watch the show out of principle, in a "progressives are upset about this so I'm going to make a point of enjoying it" contrarian sort of way. Will the gamble pay off? It could depend on what Rowling gets up to between now and 2026.

Next. harry potter. Let’s dreamcast a Harry Potter television reboot on HBO Max. dark

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