HBO Harry Potter special will not feature controversial franchise creator

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone stars and filmmaker Chris Columbus are reuniting for the previously announced 20th anniversary retrospective on HBO Max. But there’s one notable name missing from the list of participants.

WarnerMedia on Tuesday announced that the special will feature the franchise’s central trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as well as director Columbus. They will be joined by other franchise alums including Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Imelda Staunton, Tom Felton, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Bonnie Wright, Alfred Enoch, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch and Ian Hart.


The release made no mention of J. K. Rowling when listing those participating in the retrospective. While Harry Potter remains a beloved franchise, Rowling sparked controversy from the trans community after saying that transgender individuals should be defined by their biological sex.

Sources close to the project note that the retrospective will focus on the creation of the film and the central cast/team to distance themselves from the creator.

Rowling will, however, be featured in archival footage. She will not make a new appearance in the special.


Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts will stream Jan. 1 on HBO Max, with a debut on linear networks TBS and Cartoon Network in the spring ahead of the theatrical debut of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

Tom Ascheim, president of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics said:

“It has been an incredible journey since the debut of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone film, and witnessing how it has evolved into this remarkable interconnected universe has been magical to say the least. This retrospective is a tribute to everyone whose lives were touched by this cultural phenomenon — from the talented cast and crew who poured their heart and soul into this extraordinary film franchise to the passionate fans who continue to keep the Wizarding World spirit alive 20 years later.”


HBO Max is also making a Harry Potter quiz show in another bid to have some content tied to the Wizarding World on the platform.

Expanding the world of Harry Potter remains a top priority for HBO Max and Warner Bros., which, along with creator Rowling, controls rights to the property. Harry Potter is one of Warners’ most valuable pieces of IP.

The game show and retrospective are the first official TV offshoots of Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter franchise and come after WarnerMedia tapped Ascheim to oversee the Harry Potter franchise for the studio.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, the first film in the franchise, debuted in theaters on in Nov. 14, 2001, and became a global phenomenon.


Get your copy of Wizarding World: [10 Film Collection] [Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts] on Amazon now.


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