Warner Bros. Outraged Over ‘Harry Potter’ Film Rights

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Harry Potter characters stand in front of the lake in a promotional picture for 'Goblet of Fire'

Credit: Warner Bros.

With a multi-billion dollar film franchise, numerous theme parks, and a Broadway show, it’s safe to say that Harry Potter is one of the most successful tales of all time – but not everyone was #TeamHarry from the start.

Over 25 years since JK Rowling wrote “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the tales of Harry and his wizarding pals are still going strong. With seven books, Rowling fleshed out a fantasy world packed with dragons, Dementors, and daring escapades that lends itself naturally to a cinematic adaptation.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) grabs the letters as they fall from the ceiling
Credit: Warner Bros.

When Lorenzo di Bonaventura – producer and former president of worldwide production at Warner Bros. – first picked up a Harry Potter book, he instantly saw its potential. That’s why he jumped at the opportunity to purchase the rights ASAP. Bonaventura recently sat down with Collider to discuss his latest project, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023), and shared his version of events from Harry Potter‘s pre-cinematic success.

“It was a great book,” he explained, “and [when] we read it… it had not been published. I think while we were negotiating, it was released in England, and it started becoming a phenomenon. It was just a great story, and it just felt fresh, and it caught my imagination more than anything else.”

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) in 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'
Credit: Warner Bros.

Related: ‘Harry Potter’ Stars Returning to Franchise For Mega Film

Bonaventura then met JK Rowling, who mapped out the arc of all seven books. That was all the convincing he needed. “It was just like, ‘Wow, okay, we don’t have to do much,’ you know? Like it’s been figured out. We just have to now figure out how to reduce it to a two-hour kind of experience.”

While Bonaventura may have been incredibly enthusiastic about the franchise’s potential, not everyone was as keen. Bonaventura didn’t name names but explained that some of his then-bosses at Warner Bros. weren’t as optimistic – especially considering the rights cost a reported $2 million.

“Some of my boss’ reaction was, ‘Why are you buying a kid book for a lot of money?’” he said. “And I’m like, ‘It’s not a kid book, it’s an everybody book. It’s got a great imagination.’ That’s what drew me to it.”

Three young Guests visiting Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal's Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Universal Studios

Related: Latest ‘Potter’ News Could Affect the Franchise in a Big Way

Needless to say, Bonaventura is the one laughing today. As of 2023, the entire Harry Potter franchise is estimated to be worth $43.19 billion. While the books alone make up around $7.7 billion of that figure, it’s safe to say that a huge chunk has been generated by the films and their consequential merchandise and attractions. With yet another adaptation on the way from HBO in the next few years, it’s safe to say that that number will only grow – and it turns out we partly have Bonaventura’s confidence in Harry and co. to thank.

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