Harry Potter: Why JK Rowling's involvement in the TV series is a risk HBO doesn't need to take

Not only is JK Rowling's involvement in the Harry Potter remake controversial, it's hurting her chances of success.

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

With Warner Bros. Discovery gearing up to remake the Harry Potter TV series, it's becoming increasingly clear that JK Rowling's involvement in the project is a risk HBO shouldn't take. The Harry Potter franchise is a true intellectual property juggernaut, a brand that has gone from strength to strength over the past few decades, spawning films, spin-offs, a Broadway show, a theme park, and so much more. It was only a matter of time before Harry Potter got his own TV series, based on the original books in the fantasy franchise.

HBO Max's Harry Potter TV series has been officially confirmed for 2023 (but was already scheduled for 2021). It caused some confusion when it was revealed that the TV show, which is currently hiring its own writers, would be a remake. Considering the films are still so beloved, it was a curious choice on HBO's part. However, the announcement that JK Rowling would be heavily involved in the project, from start to finish, created an even bigger controversy. A controversy that Warner Bros. Discovery and Max must address if the remake is to succeed.

Being a Harry Potter fan is a difficult task right now. The franchise will always be inextricably linked to her creator who, in recent years, has not made headlines for her books, but for her transphobic views. And Harry Potter himself isn't what he used to be. While the original films are still beloved, the Fantastic Beasts spin-offs didn't fare as well, to the point where the final two films were canceled. Rowling and the declining quality of the films have created a scenario where the Harry Potter intellectual property desperately needs to start over.

Unfortunately, JK Rowling's intimate involvement with the TV show is the opposite of starting from scratch. She's a controversial figure right now, and not in a way that's positive or can be interpreted in a different light. For better or for worse – almost certainly for worse – her association with Harry Potter has already tainted the remake, but her direct involvement threatens to become a real problem for Warner Bros. Discovery.

The Harry Potter remake is alienating much of its audience

JK Rowling's transition from beloved children's book author to a bigoted anti-trans figure has been painful to watch, even for the LGBTQ+ community. Harry Potter's queer audience has long been known in pop culture as a substantial and loyal part of its fanbase. The story of a boy who finds himself in a wizarding school filled with acceptance and friendship is a story that resonated deeply with its queer readers, as well as those who were exploring their own identities. Many of the kids who grew up reading Harry Potter when the series first came out did so because the books were a refuge from a world that didn't understand or accept them.

This makes Rowling's transphobic comments and her refusal to listen to her LGBTQ+ readers even harder to stomach. Rather than reconsider her position and why she might be so harmful to her readers, she has chosen to redouble her social media efforts and troll those who disagree. This cruelty did nothing but alienate many of her former fans, who felt ostracized from that magical world she created.

The Harry Potter remake doesn't need JK Rowling to succeed

The decision to involve JK Rowling so intimately in the creative development process of the Harry Potter TV show is short-sighted, even beyond the issue of alienating audiences. The Harry Potter films were loved, the Fantastic Beasts films were a disaster, and they were a disaster created by Rowling – she was the screenwriter, after all. Rowling has proven to be incapable of translating her work to the screen. Warner Bros. would do well to remember that the films she wrote were so poorly received that they had to bring in longtime Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves as Rowling's co-writer in an attempt to save the third and then it would have been the final film.

The television remake can be successful even without Rowling, in fact, it would be even better. She can't be completely excluded from the project, she still retains the intellectual property rights to the franchise, however, Harry Potter is at its best when she is only involved as a creative consultant.

Warner Bros. Discovery is mishandling the JK Rowling controversy

So far, Warner Bros. Discovery has done nothing to reassure audiences and those disappointed by Rowling's transphobic bigotry. In fact, the studio did just the opposite: CEO David Zaslav recently publicized Rowling's involvement in a company earnings call. This demonstrates a complete ignorance of how radioactive JK Rowling is to much of the Harry Potter audience. Zaslav hasn't exactly proven himself to be a man who understands or cares about the zeitgeist.

It's troubling that Warner Bros. Discovery has not only invited Rowling into the series' reaction process but is using her as a selling point. At best, he illustrates a lack of understanding of the property or its fan base; at worst, it illustrates their lack of concern or care for those same fans. Considering that Warner Bros. hasn't made a good film in the Harry Potter universe in 13 years, it begs the question of whether the studio still has what it takes to be faithful to the franchise and deliver something great. Unfortunately, all signs point to no.

Source: Screenrant