Rumor: HBO Max Considering Live-Action Harry Potter Series. We say, Levi-NO-sa.
No One Wants This
In today’s round of “no one wants this” Hollywood development news, The Hollywood Reporter reports that HBO Max is in the early development stages of a live-action series set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. This news was met with a nearly universal groan of “please no,” given the fact that author J.K. Rowling has made herself into the poster child for transphobia in recent years.
According to THR, Warner Brothers, which owns both HBO Max and the movie rights to Rowling’s works, has started the very earliest of talks and development for the potential live-action series.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that executives at the WarnerMedia-backed streamer have engaged in multiple conversations with potential writers exploring various ideas that would bring the beloved property to television. Sources say broad ideas have been discussed as part of the early-stage exploratory meetings.
The network is staying extremely mum about it, however:
While it’s news that executives at HBO Max and Warners are engaged in meetings to find a writer and pitch for a Harry Potter TV series, no writers or talent are currently attached as the conversations are still in the extremely early stages and no deals have been made. “There are no Harry Potter series in development at the studio or on the streaming platform,” HBO Max and Warner Bros. reaffirmed in a statement to THR.
So, we don’t have any idea what the series will be about, who will be in it, if it will be original or based on something Rowling-created or adjacent. Or even if it will really ever exist. We just know that the people are having meetings and looking for ideas. If they’re looking for ideas for the series, we and the rest of the world that care about trans and gender-nonconforming people have a great pitch: DON’T!
Now, it’s understandable that Warner Brothers wants to continue to milk the Potter cash cow (I’m sure that’s an actual fantastic beast named a moneymilkus or something in the Potter-verse at this point). They’re looking at how Disney has spun their properties like Star Wars and Marvel into making their streaming services nerd destinations and essential viewing. From a purely business point of view, this is a property Warner Brothers owns and wants to exploit.
But from a moral point of view, that’s giving even more money, power, and more attention to the work of a vocal transphobe. And from a story point of view as well, we also need to admit that the Wizarding World is limited in its potential. Seriously. Rowling’s work can be fun, but it is also derivative and small. Just look at how dull and lifeless the Fantastic Beasts films are. If we’re considering a series that’s just more whimsical names and random, racist Wizard schools can we just … not?
Of course, there is the potential for this to be good and do something transformative that addresses the problems and prejudices of Rowling’s work. Fans have long lobbied for a series exploring the “marauders” era of Hogwarts but, well, that’s awfully male and white and we know how that story ends, and let’s not forget how making Remus Lupin straight was one of the first clues to how poorly Rowling handled her own subtext and characters.
But, maybe a live-action series could have characters that are actually, overtly queer? Or maybe it could have characters of color who have fully explored characters and aren’t treated in racist and literally dehumanizing ways (NO SNAKE LADIES)? Maybe a series could explore how magic intersects with sexuality and gender identity the way so much Harry Potter fanfic has … or maybe we can leave that work to fanfic and not put more money in a TERF’s pocket? And there’s no way that Rowling won’t mess up whatever series HBO Max tries to make, as she still has the final say in all things Potter-related that make it to screen. Any dreams for a progressive series in this fashion would no doubt be crushed.
Whether this series will happen remains to be seen, as these are only the earliest rumors and meetings. If you’re looking for a series in the meantime that’s about magic school and features multiple trans actors and queer storylines, along with a vibrant, inclusive cast, all five seasons of The Magicians are now streaming on Netflix. Or if you’re looking for something kid-friendly, The Worst Witch, which Rowling stole her entire Hogwarts aesthetic from, also has multiple seasons available on Netflix as well.
And let’s also not forget the good news for the trans community in the US today, as President Biden has officially revoked Trump’s trans military ban. Now if he can do something about Rowling, we’ll really be in business.
(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Warner Brothers)
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