All eight Harry Potter movies are streaming on HBO Max, which is surprising considering executives were clamoring to bring the Boy Who Lived home to the newly launched streaming service but weren’t clear as recently as earlier this week when that would happen.
The Harry Potter films were originally tied up in a deal with NBCUniversal — which has a number of TV networks alongside its own Peacock streaming service, and still maintains a robust library on Hulu — until 2025. Kevin Reilly, HBO Max’s chief content officer, told Business Insider this week that the company didn’t have a “timetable” for getting Harry Potter rights back, but he added that “it is high on our priority list.”
Clearly. NBCUniversal paid a hefty amount to secure the TV rights to the Harry Potter films back in 2016: the deal was reportedly in the $250 million range, according to The Wall Street Journal at the time. Although the agreement between WarnerMedia and Universal also gave Universal’s theme park rights to “exclusive content and events,” NBCUniversal told the Journal at the time that it was the largest movie acquisition in the company’s history.
The deal only went into effect two years ago and isn’t even halfway through its run. It’s unclear how much WarnerMedia paid to bring those films over to HBO Max for its launch, but the streaming rights likely cost a pretty penny. NBCUniversal will continue to play the films on its traditional linear television networks.
This sort of last-minute rights wrangling isn’t new in the streaming space. Disney announced that Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 would stream on Disney Plus the day before the streaming service launched. Prior to that announcement, several of those films were locked in complicated rights deals with other companies.
A Disney executive at the time told The Verge at a Disney Plus event that deals were being made right up until the platform’s launch. Disney also worked out a deal with Starz, which held the rights to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to ensure the film was available to stream on launch day. Clearly, WarnerMedia is making similar moves here.
Regardless of how it came to be, all eight main Harry Potter films are streaming on HBO Max if you’re looking for something new to marathon while stuck at home.