WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group Chair, Ann Sarnoff, made it official today and Ascheim will report directly to her. He’ll add his oversight of the Wizarding World franchise, which includes theme parks, tours and the $9.1 billion-grossing theatrical library that spans the Harry Potter and spinoff Fantastic Beasts titles.
That said, the Fantastic Beasts movies still will be managed by Warner Bros. Pictures Group, the franchise-based videogames will continue to be handled by Warner Bros. Games, and Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter and its upcoming sister park in Tokyo will continue to be managed by Worldwide Studio Operations.
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Of note, Ascheim will be WarnerMedia’s senior rep in its relationship with Harry Potter and Wizarding World architect J.K. Rowling and her representatives, agent Neil Blair with Chief Creative Officer James McKnight at The Blair Partnership, to exploit the series across emerging opportunities and existing businesses. Ascheim also will look to enhance the content universe related to the Wizarding World property for the Studio’s various outlets and platform partners. While Disney has spinoff series on its streaming platform for Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, HBO Max would do right to land a Harry Potter spinoff series.
In managing the WW/HP global franchise, Ascheim will work closely with Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences, led by Pam Lifford, who serves as the division’s president. GBE will continue its work on developing and executing the experiential components of the franchise, which includes working with third-party partners to create theme park attractions, live events and experiences, licensing and consumer products.
Within the Wizarding World universe, there’s the third (of five) Fantastic Beasts movies currently filming at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden. On hold during the pandemic is the massive global two-part play production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which reps the eighth story created by Rowling, along with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany and producers Colin Callender and Sonia Friedman.
This Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team was founded in 2014 and previously was supervised by Josh Berger, who stepped down from his executive responsibilities late last year. The members of the HPGFD team will now become part of the Global Brands and Experiences team.
“In Harry Potter and the Wizarding World, we have an iconic franchise and characters that have become a beloved part of the lives of millions around the world,” said Sarnoff. “This new management of the franchise highlights its enormous importance to Warner Bros. and the myriad opportunities we see for continuing to engage and delight fans of all ages across the globe. I’m excited for Tom to be leading our efforts and look to him and his team to work across the company to discover innovative and creative ways of keeping the Wizarding World fresh and relevant for years to come.”
Said Ascheim: “I’ve been an avid Harry Potter fan for years and an admiring observer of how the Wizarding World franchise has been managed. I’m honored to now be leading the very talented individuals and teams who have done such a great job in growing this brand and its meaning and value to fans everywhere. I look forward to going even further in exploring and expanding all of the opportunities we have in this incredible world.”
The Wizarding World also includes three theme parks on two continents (Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences partnering with Universal Studios Hollywood, Orlando and Osaka, and upcoming park in Beijing), the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter (with Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo scheduled to open in 2023), and the touring Harry Potter: The Exhibition which includes artifacts from the franchise. There’s also the Portkey Games label which is responsible for state-of-the-art videogames, and the digital news and publishing portal Wizarding World Digital. Let’s also not forget about the toy and consumer products line. The Platform 9 ¾ Shop (Kings Cross, Heathrow and Gatwick Airports) and Harry Potter New York (opening 2021) offer unique, immersive retail/entertainment experiences from the series.
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