‘Harry Potter’ Proves Its Popularity, Despite Ongoing Controversy

in Harry Potter

Harry Potter stares ahead in fear in front of a tombstone

Credit: Warner Bros.

Decades after the release of the first novel, the Harry Potter franchise is still one of the most popular and most lucrative franchises in modern media and pop culture.

The seven-novel series is still one of the best-selling series of all time, and the eight film adaptations made household names out of its cast. It also made writer J.K. Rowling one of the most successful female writers of all time, despite her controversial opinions in the last several years.

The Harry Potter series resonated with millions of readers around the world for its depiction of found family, acceptance, and showing that heroes could be made out of anyone. It resonated with a lot of readers who felt like they didn’t fit in growing up or who wanted a magical fantasy world to escape to when their own lives were difficult. Unfortunately, Rowling’s outspoken opinions on the queer community have left a rather sour taste for many who once found solace and comfort in the novels.

The cast of harry potter reuniting
Credit: Warner Bros.

J.K. Rowling has been accused of being transphobic for various posts she’s made on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. For many readers who saw themselves in some of the characters of her novels, or who felt certain allegories could be attributed to some of her characters and storylines, it felt like a betrayal.

Earlier this year, Glamour Magazine compiled a list of Rowling’s comments that go as far back as 2020 and include comments about terminology and sex. Although she stated she “respect[s] every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” she also expressed support for someone who had been fired for making transphobic posts.

Since then, Rowling has been called transphobic and a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and has continued to double down on her controversial opinions. She’s not only drawn ire from fans, but she’s also been denounced by the actors that played characters she created. Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, has expressed his disagreement with Rowling’s comments, and has publicly supported the Trevor Project before and after her comments were made public.

Harry Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe, on set of the Harry Potter series
Credit: Warner Bros

Despite these controversial comments and calls to blacklist the Harry Potter franchise, there are many who still love the books, movies, and the rest of the franchise, despite its black cloud. Harry Potter would eventually be turned into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and would spawn a trilogy prequel series titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Themwhich features Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Jude Law as Professor Dumbledore, as well as Johnny Depp, who would play the franchise’s villain Gellert Grindlewald before being replaced by Mads Mikkelsen for the final film.

The original franchise has also created a stage play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which follows Harry’s son, Albus, and Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, in a complex story involving friendship, time travel, and living up to a legacy. It was also recently announced that Warner Bros. Discovery would be rebooting movies as a series on Max in the near future and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the most popular additions to the Universal theme parks over the last few years.

Suffice to say, Harry Potter doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. According to a new report by Variety, the franchise has also taken over the world of video games, proving its popularity continues to grow.

Hogwarts Legacy Harry Potter game student getting Sorted
Credit: Warner Bros.

Earlier this year, Warner Bros. Games released Hogwarts Legacy, a role-playing adventure game that allows players to create their own character and explore the Hogwarts castle and grounds while practicing their magic and interacting with other Hogwarts students. The game takes place about a hundred years before the events of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, meaning that none of the beloved characters would make an appearance in the game.

Due to J.K. Rowling’s controversial opinions and an alleged anti-Semitic storyline, the game faced much backlash from fans calling for a boycott of the video game prior to its release. Despite the outrage, Hogwarts Legacy quickly became one of the most popular games to be released by Warner Bros., selling over 12 million copies in the first two weeks alone.

According to the Variety reportHogwarts Legacy was not only the best-selling game of 2023, but it was also the most-searched game on Google this year. So far, the game has amassed over $1 billion and continues to see its popularity grow. Despite the controversies surrounding its creator and its own issues, clearly Harry Potter continues to be one of the most popular franchises.

The Wand shop in Hogwarts Legacy
Credit: Warner Bros.

It felt like a personal betrayal to many when Rowling expressed her divisive opinions on social media and her continued doubling down on nuanced issues. While many fans decided it was time to let go of the world of magic and Hogwarts, others took a “separate the art from the artist” approach and continue to share their love of the characters while attempting not to support Rowling as much as possible.

Whatever the personal approach may be, clearly the Wizarding World of Harry Potter continues to expand to other platforms and forms of content and continues to see tons of success from audiences of all sorts. Whether or not you agree with J.K. Rowling, you can’t disagree that Harry Potter will continue to resonate with fans of all ages.

What do you think about the success of the Harry Potter franchise despite the controversies that surround it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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