For over twenty years, the magic and wonder of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter have delighted readers, movie audiences, and Guests at the Universal Studios Resorts, with recent successes paving the way for future expansion.
First released in 1998, the Harry Potter book series by now-controversial British author J.K. Rowling followed the story of an eleven-year-old boy who discovers he is a secret wizard and unlocks a wondrous world of fantastic creatures, magic spells, and a school just for witches and warlocks. After the books became a smash hit with audiences of all ages, Warner Bros. optioned the novels for film with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, sparking a second franchise whose popularity may have surpassed the success of the first.
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Of course, Universal Studios entered a licensing agreement with the media distributor back in 2010 to bring the Wizarding World to its Florida and, later, Southern California theme parks. Now, Guests at either Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure at the Universal Studios Orlando Resort, or Universal Studios Hollywood can step inside the secret universe to experience unique sights, sounds, flavors, and attractions.
Due to the popularity of highly-immersive lands like Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, the Wizarding World set a new standard in themed entertainment, one since emulated through Disney Parks expansions like Walt Disney World’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or Avengers Campus at the Disneyland Resort. But as the source media and its original target audience age, will the increased demand for HP content remain?
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Well, the company seems to think so, citing the recent success of the Hogwarts Legacy video game, despite criticisms of its problematic content and creators from transgender and Jewish activists, especially since the author herself began to publically voice anti-LGBT rhetoric and identify herself as a Trans Exclusive Radical Feminist, and box offices bombs for 2022’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. In fact, in a statement, Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Financial Officer Gunnar Wiedenfels cited the game’s financial prosperity as a reason to seek future collaboration with Rowling on projects within the Harry Potter universe, an idea originally proposed by CEO David Zaslav:
Take Harry Potter as an example, the Wizarding World, the fact that we are enjoying this massive success with the Hogwarts Legacy launch, 12 years after the last film came out, shows that there is so much opportunity and we’re only just starting to expand that. We’ve got the new Harry Potter tour coming up in Tokyo in the middle of the year. Long story short, I think this one-company approach, great leadership in the individual business units, but coordinated franchise management is probably one of the biggest opportunities the company has.
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Moreover, the company was apparently in talks with HBO Max executive Sarah Aubrey about developing a film version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage show, plus a streaming platform series, possibly to rival the latest Marvel serial releases making waves on Disney+. At one point, rumors circulated that the show might explore the backstories of the “Marauders” friend group, comprised of Harry’s father James Potter, his mother Lily Evans, and his godfather Sirius Black, beloved Defence Against the Dark Arts professor Remus Lupin, and Voldemort’s traitorous right hand Peter Pettigrew.
Certainly, it seems that with Universal filing new patented technology for its wand systems and “Interactive Animated Character Head Systems and Methods” technology, the future Harry Potter continues to be bright, both on screen and in theme parks.