Disney Nearly Merged With ‘Harry Potter,’ DC Comics Studio

in Movies & TV

bob iger (left) and bob chapek (right) in front of millennium falcon galaxy's edge

Credit: Disney

In 2016, media giant AT&T began what would become a $100 billion deal to purchase Time Warner — the parent company of Harry Potter and DC Comics movie studio, Warner Bros. The highly-publicized buyout landed AT&T on the wrong side of a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit, which just came to a conclusion last week.

Harry Potter Dobby
Credit: Warner Bros.

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The New York Times explained the situation well, noting all of the strange things that somehow related to AT&T’s proposed acquisition of the Time Warner company:

…code names, emoji-speckled emails, artisanal doughnuts, a gun-toting Steve McQueen and a cramped Greenwich Village townhouse all play a part — culminating in the announcement last week that it would spin off WarnerMedia, as the former Time Warner is now known, to merge with the reality TV giant Discovery.

bob iger
Credit: Disney

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As it turns out, though, according to the Times, we could be awaiting a very different merger right now — or, perhaps, could have already seen it come to pass. Per the newspaper’s article:

In October 2016, shortly before Time Warner and AT&T announced their deal, Bob Iger, the head of Disney at the time [sitting Walt Disney Company CEO is Bob Chapek], placed a call to Jeff Bewkes, the chief of Time Warner, according to two people intimately familiar with those details. The Disney leader asked Bewkes if he’d be interested in a possible merger. It was too late, Bewkes said. There was already something in the works. Iger wished him well and hung up the phone. Later, Iger called another media chief in the hopes of forging a deal. It was Rupert Murdoch.

disney ceo bob chapek (left) and executive chairman bob iger (right)
Credit: Disney

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Disney, of course, ultimately completed their purchase of Murdoch’s 20th Century Fox — now 20th Century Studios — in 2019, adding IPs like James Cameron’s Avatar, The Simpsons, Alien, Predator, and The Greatest Showman to the Walt Disney Company family of brands.

Imagine, though, if things had gone differently. Instead of awaiting Avatar 2 (and 3, 4, and 5), we could have seen Disney own the Harry Potter films, plus the Fantastic Beasts spinoff series, and the rights to a number of DC Comics superheroes, including Wonder Woman and Batman.

gal gadot
Credit: Gal Gadot Instagram

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Ironically enough, there are already a number of tie-ins between Warner Bros. and Disney, even though the merger or buyout between the two media conglomerates never occurred.

Wonder Woman (2017) and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) star Gal Gadot, for example, is set to play the female lead in 20th Century Studios’ Death on the Nile, while Wonder Woman franchise director, Patty Jenkins, will be directing Lucasfilm’s next Star Wars feature film, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (2023) — oh, and, Gadot is rumored to be making her debut in the Star Wars universe as well.

patty jenkins
Credit: Screenshot via Patty Jenkins Twitter

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Not to mention that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni’s breakout Mandalorian star, Pedro Pascal (Din Djarin), also starred in Jenkins’s WW84 as villain Maxwell Lord.

Then, there’s the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard saga, which has greatly impacted both Disney and Warner Bros. Amid the former couple’s libel case involving allegations of domestic violence, Depp has been fired from both Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (he played Captain Jack Sparrow) and Warner Bros. Fantastic Beasts 3 (he played Gellert Grindelwald).

amber heard as mera (left) and johnny depp as captain jack sparrow (right)
Credit: Warner Bros./Disney

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Heard also has a part in a Warner Bros. project. She played Mera in Aquaman (2018) and, at this point, is expected to reprise her role alongside Jason Momoa in Aquaman 2, despite an ongoing LAPD probe that could end in jail time.

Who can say how Chapek and Iger would have dealt with Heard and Depp both working under the Disney banner, should this merger have ever come to pass.

johnny depp grindelwald
Credit: Warner Bros.

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Although the connections throughout the entertainment industry are often wild — it truly is a small world after all — the links between Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros. could certainly have led to some intriguing mashups through the years.

bucky and sam
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Can you imagine, for a moment, a world in which Marvel Cinematic Universe characters and DC Comics characters somehow collide, all under the Disney umbrella? There’s no guarantee, of course, that Marvel President Kevin Feige would have gone for this — but never say never.

What do you think would have happened if Disney had purchased Warner Bros.?

For now, you can catch up on all things Disney, Marvel and Star Wars on the Disney+ streaming service. If you’re looking for DC films, check out HBO Max. Currently, Disney is offering many simultaneous theatrical release and Disney+ movie debuts, such as for Black Widow, while Warner Bros. have a similar situation with the HBO Max platform. 

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