Warner Media CEO Jason Kilar spoke about expanding the world of Harry Potter for HBO Max and Warner Bros. during an appearance at an investor conference Thursday.
“There’s this little thing called Harry Potter, which is one of the most beloved franchises. And we’re incredibly thankful to be able to partner with J.K. Rowling and so I would argue there’s a lot of fun and potential there as well,” Kilar told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecommunications Conference during a session that was webcast.
Kilar did not magnify on what those expansion plans might be, but the recent assumption has pointed to Warner Bros. looking to expand the famed film franchise by putting a Harry Potter live-action TV series in early development at HBO Max.
And on the movie front, there’s talk Warner Bros. could be developing a new tentpole based on the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage play. Discussion about possible sequels for Harry Potter whose rights Warner Bros. controls along with creator J.K. Rowling came as Kilar was talking about the creative fortunes going forward for Warner Bros.
And that trajectory proceeds to be bound up with HBO Max as WarnerMedia parent AT&T has placed a big bet on streaming with its direct-to-consumer offering. Kilar pointed to HBO and HBO Max now standing at a combined 41.5 million subscribers to date, well ahead of projections.
“It’s early days, but given my experience in the industry, we are so far ahead of pretty much any metric, whether it’s engagement, usage-per-day, our absolute number of subscribers,” Kilar said as HBO Max gets set to launch in Latin America in June.
And when asked about how WarnerMedia will handle theatrical releases and other windows post-pandemic, Kilar said he agreed with Disney CEO Bob Chapek telling the Morgan Stanley conference two days earlier than he predicted shorter theatrical-to-home release windows.
“I do tend to agree with Bob Chapek when he says it’s hard to imagine going back to 2015 in terms of the windows that existed for theatrical and everything that happened afterward,” Kilar said. But he quickly put in there was an industry agreement on moving forward with theatrical releases and expanding streaming alternatives.
“I think people appreciate and understand that, and at the end of the day, it’s about putting the seeds in place for a very healthy and robust business that can last for another 100 years,” Kilar added. But on how that balance between theatrical windows and premium video-on-demand platforms will shake out before an industry standard can be agreed upon, the WarnerMedia chief said it was too early to say.
“It’s so dynamic. People are experimenting,” Kilar told the investors conference while implying more vision would likely emerge later this year.