For years, I’ve always said that the Harry Potter film series is unique in having 3 different parents – Warner Bros. for making them, Disney for airing them (via cable network Freeform, formerly ABC Family), and NBCUniversal for creating their true to life home (via Universal Parks and Resorts). That 3-way arrangement will become monogamous in July 2018, with Disney on the outs.
Ahead of Warner Bros’ debut of the Harry Potter spin-off film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, the Wall Street Journal reports that NBCUniversal cut a 7-year, possibly $250 million dollar deal that would make the NBCUniversal family of networks the broadcast and digital media home of all 8 adventures of the Boy Who Lived. Also included is the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, and source material from both franchises that could be put to use within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter properties at the Universal theme parks in Orlando, Hollywood, and Japan.
Variety also reports the deal would bring more collaboration for screenings and promotional events within the Universal Parks and Resorts family (Orlando’s annual Celebration of Harry Potter continues to attract record crowds); in addition, WB, NBCU, and creator J.K. Rowling would also collaborate for new digital ventures within Pottermore. WB president of distribution Jeffrey Schlesinger: “Having all of these films in one place builds upon the existing relationship we already have with NBCUniversal and J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, and creates many exciting new opportunities across multiple platforms for both our companies and the fans of this franchise.”
A representative from Freeform, which has aired the films for over a decade, confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that they will no longer air the films once the NBCU arrangement begins. While mainly USA and SyFy will broadcast the movies, NBCU retains rights to air them on all of their networks, including NBC. Additional content is also promised, including the extended versions of the first two films and 3D versions of the “Deathly Hallows” 2-parter.