David Zaslav; J.K. Rowling
It’s probably just a coincidence that at the same time J.K. Rowling descended further into trans-exclusionary radical feminism, her Wizarding World spin-off Fantastic Beasts franchise began to crumble (the series, with its controversial cast, went out with a whimper of a third film as plans for the final two films have seemingly stalled). But neither opposition nor failure will deter the embattled author, who is famously content with her royalty cheques. And new Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav would be happy to give her another one.
Zaslav unsurprisingly announced that “We’re going to have a real focus on franchises,” on the company’s Q3 earnings call on Thursday while explaining what would be “different” about the company under his leadership (per Variety). “We haven’t had a Superman movie in 13 years. We haven’t done a Harry Potter movie in 15 years.”
This statement is bizarrely specific in its inaccuracy; setting aside recent Superman appearances, the Man Of Steel’s last solo film was only nine years ago. And of course, the most recent film from a literal Harry Potter franchise was released this year. Even if you want to be pedantic about it, the last movie with the character Harry Potter in it was only 11 years ago! Is it gaslighting? Is it pure obliviousness to the catalog he now controls? The reign of Zaslav continues to befuddle and bemuse.
Anyway, Zaslav went on to explain the financial benefit of franchises, as if anyone on earth could possibly be unaware of it at this point (do we really need another guy evangelizing on this issue?). He emphasized “a focus on the big movies that are loved, that are tentpoled, that people are going to leave early from dinner to go to see—and we have a lot of them.” He continued, “Batman, Superman, Aquaman, if we can do something with JK on Harry Potter going forward, Lord Of The Rings, what are we doing with Game Of Thrones? What are we doing with a lot of the big franchises that we have? We’re focused on franchises.”
Yeah, yeah, we get it. And for better or worse, Rowling’s Wizarding World has a lot of potential for further spin-offs. Though if Zaslav wants something with the actual protagonist Harry Potter in it, the options are more limited. He could reboot the original series (feels too soon, though that’s never stopped a production company before), or possibly adapt the Harry Potter And The Cursed Child play. (Daniel Radcliffe, who has come out against Rowling’s anti-trans views, has no interest in returning to the character for such an adaptation.) There are way more options looking beyond Harry, like maybe what if a guy who wrote one of Hogwarts’ textbooks was also tangentially related to an obscure conflict mentioned a couple of times in the original series? That would be pretty cool, right?
TLDR: J.K. Rowling definitely isn’t canceled (shocker!), and David Zaslav maybe doesn’t know how to count? We’ll be keeping an eye on this story as it develops.
More from The A.V. Club