The new Harry Potter series has barely been announced, and yet fans are already boycotting it because of JK Rowling's involvement.
JK Rowling used to be the most beloved author in the world, having inspired millions of readers for multiple generations with the Harry Potter book series and movie franchise. Now, she is one of the most controversial authors currently alive due to her incessant and very public anti-trans stance. Recently, Max (formerly HBO Max) announced a reboot of the Harry Potter franchise to be made as a series this time, and even though the announcement has only been live for a day, it is already being canceled due to Rowling’s involvement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
It’s impossible to create a new Harry Potter series without JK Rowling involved because the original author still holds a great deal of control over the rights to her creations. While Rowling is not expected to have day-to-day management over the new Max Harry Potter series, she will be listed as an Executive Producer and will have some level of control over the show. Herein lies the problem.
There was a time when Harry Potter fans wanted nothing more than to have the books turned into a television series. While the Warner Bros. film franchise was incredibly successful (with all eight films making a total of $7.7 billion at the box office combined), many fans of the JK Rowling books believed that the movies lacked a lot of the magic that the books held since they had to squeeze so much into a movie-length run time. For years, book fans have called for a TV series that could explore the Harry Potter world in more detail on screen and showcase many of the beloved characters and events that had to be omitted for the movies.
But that was all before JK Rowling went public with her controversial opinions on transgenderism. It started in 2018 when Rowling “accidentally” liked a transphobic tweet on Twitter, and then everything spiraled out of control from there. After liking more transphobic tweets, following transphobic people online, and standing with professionals who were fired for transphobic comments, the Harry Potter series author posted her first anti-trans message in June 2020 when she slammed another tweet for using the phrase “people who menstruate.”
After receiving backlash for her comments that excluded transmen, JK Rowling published an essay defending her position and has subsequently spent the last three years continuing to push an anti-trans agenda by posting more comments on her Twitter platform, as well as writing transphobic novels, and publicly supporting laws that aim to make life harder for trans people. As a result, fans of the Harry Potter book and movie series have begun to distance themselves from the author, while many have been left to question whether one can still appreciate an artist’s work even if they disagree with the artist.
While Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO of HBO & Max Content insists that the “Harry Potter story is incredibly affirmative and positive about love and acceptance” and that is what Max wants to have reflected on screen, fans are cynical of the truth behind Bloys’ words. Indeed, the Harry Potter book and movie series did showcase themes of love and acceptance, but JK Rowling seems to have forgotten what those words mean, despite the fact that she authored the books 20 years ago. In reality, fans believe that Max is simply after the money believed to be found in the extremely lucrative franchise (remember how much the original movies made?).
Whatever Max’s intentions are (though we’re pretty sure we agree with the cynical fans on this one), the new Harry Potter series will likely be as lucrative as Bloys and JK Rowling hope, considering that the latest Harry Potter product, Hogwarts Legacy, broke gaming sales records and moved more than 12 million copies in the first two weeks alone. On the other hand, the most recent Wizarding World films, the Fantastic Beast franchise, did so badly that it had to be cut down from five movies to three. However, the main difference between the two was that Hogwarts Legacy is a really good product, and Fantastic Beasts is really not.
So, is Max setting themselves up for failure by aligning themselves with the controversial JK Rowling? Or will the new Harry Potter series be too enticing for fans to miss, despite the original content creator clashing with their values? Only time will tell.