I digested the news from HBO Max (sorry, “Max”) announcing a ten-year commitment to a new Harry Potter series, re-adapting the original books with an all-new cast and probably 3-4 times the total runtime of all eight original films combined.
It’s both an idea that looks somewhat creatively bankrupt, but also something that will inevitably draw in a lot of viewers. But unlike similar IP-based projects, it feels like it comes with a risk that most other series don’t.
No, it’s not a JK Rowling thing. Yes, her transphobic comments are awful and her involvement here as an executive producer isn’t good, but if 12 million sales of Hogwarts Legacy have taught us anything, those controversies just don’t reach the mainstream. I’m talking more about the main problem of the series himself, in that it is not simply a question of extending world of Harry Potter, but to adapt beloved books and remake beloved films full of beloved cast members who are always beloved to this day.
There’s a reason we have Rings of Power and not Amazon remaking Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings as a decade-long series.
There’s a reason Disney isn’t remaking the original Star Wars trilogy and instead focusing on everything before and after.
There’s a reason HBO isn’t going to remake Game of Thrones in five years, and instead we’ll just have other stories set in different time periods.
Of course, we see that sometimes. Percy Jackson being redesigned comes to mind, but that was a two movie series ten years ago and while a great IP, nowhere near the level of scale of any of those others, it That’s why a new Disney Plus series doesn’t necessarily seem like a bad idea.
But doing not just a Harry Potter show, but a ten years The Harry Potter show is really, really committed to the idea that books aren’t enough and movies aren’t enough and people want to do all of this again ten years later and watch it run for another ten years after that. You just don’t see that happening among other mega-franchises, and there’s a good reason for that.
Why would this be a show everyone would talk about week after week? There are no twists, no surprises for the vast majority of the public. It will mostly be debates about what has and hasn’t changed from the movies, which is far less entertaining.
I guess the pitch here for the executives was Harry Potter for a “new generation” that didn’t grow up on the Radcliffe/Watson/Grint version, but I mean those movies still hold up well (and are available on the same damn platform this show airs), and of course you can read the books anytime you want. It seems like a purely economic endeavor with no creative purpose, and a 50-80 hour run no doubt seems to put a lot of bloat back into the books that the movies have cut, including stuff that probably should have been cut.
Do I think a lot of people are going to watch this, at least initially? Yes. Do I think it will be better than the books or the first time we did this with the movies? Almost certainly not, especially if JK Rowling meddles a lot with her current state. But nothing stops the Hogwarts Express, and I guess we’ll have to see.
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