The series’ arrival on WarnerMedia’s brand new streaming service comes as a massive surprise considering that Warner Bros. doesn’t — or didn’t — own the streaming rights to the films. Warner released the films during their original theatrical run, but sold the TV rights to the NBCUniversal back in 2016 in a deal that was set to last until 2025. Without the rights, it seemed that the absence of the Harry Potter could be one of the biggest gaps in content for the new streaming service.
In an interview by Business Insider that was published on Tuesday, the day before HBO Max launched, the service’s content chief Kevin Reilly said that there was no timetable for the Harry Potter films to come to HBO Max, but that it was high on the priority list. Reilly did mention that there was a lot of “active engagement around the discussion,” and a lot of “opportunities for horse trading.” Though even those statements didn’t seem to suggest that the movies could arrive this soon.
NBCUniversal’s own entry into the streaming wars is Peacock, which is only out in limited tests at the moment, but will be arriving for everyone later this year. While it’s unlikely that Harry Potter would show up on both services, it’s possible other Warner Bros. content could show up on Peacock as part of the “horse trading” that Reilly was referring too.
This isn’t the first time that streaming services have done major wheeling and dealing close to launch either. Last year, the day before the launch of Disney Plus, Disney secured the rights to several of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, including The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, which had previously been held up by other companies and added them to the service.
With so many streaming services jockeying for people’s attention, each company wants to make the most of their library content and HBO Max already had an impressive launch line up. With a huge collection from Turner Classic Movies, everything on HBO, all of the Warner Bros. DC movies, and the Lord of the Rings films, there were already plenty of reasons for people to tune in. But the 11th hour addition of Harry Potter, one of the most popular movie franchises ever, should give even more fans reason to check the service out.
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