The eight installments of the Harry Potter series are all due to exit HBO Max at the end of August, just three months after they arrived on the WarnerMedia streaming service, which debuted May 27. Streaming rights had been carved out from a long-term deal with NBCUniversal for the films, which have been in regular rotation on the company’s cable networks. HBO also had previously obtained a piece of the rights.
The first three of outings in Universal’s multi-billion-dollar Jurassic Park franchise are all heading to Netflix on August 1, the streaming giant disclosed in a tweet Monday. The initial trilogy was available on Peacock upon its launch on Comcast systems in April and in its national expansion last week, though media reports of it leaving Peacock started circulating days ago.
The disappearance of household-name movies is not a rare development in the streaming era. Disney+ parted ways with films like Home Alone and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides shortly after it went live last November. Many cinephiles, after witnessing the fate of FilmStruck, which WarnerMedia shuttered in 2018, have grown more vocal in recommending that viewers procure physical copies of treasured titles, lest they see them leave the digital realm.
Licensing and distribution has become a dense thicket for business affairs and legal teams to slice their way through, with properties assumed to be in-house often winding up somewhere else due to legacy dealmaking. Until quite recently — and even still, in many cases — licensing titles to third parties was the way of the world. Now, traditional companies are trying to lock up more of their own properties, though that can be expensive. Disney, for example, had licensed several of the original Star Wars titles to Turner (now WarnerMedia) and had to undo those deals just before the bow of Disney+, enabling it to proclaim full streaming rights.
The vanishing of Harry Potter is also not an isolated case on HBO Max. Several DC titles have already rotated off the platform, though newer ones like the 1989 Tim Burton Batman are due to replace them. It is all consistent with the strategy in streaming of keeping the programming mix fresh in an effort to minimize churn and entice new subscribers.
HBO Max, however, had touted the consolidation of the Potter films at launch, at least to some degree, after their absence from pre-launch promotion had caused some raised eyebrows among fans and the press. A press release sent to Deadline in May just two hours before HBO Max launched mentioned the Harry Potter films on its third page, in a section titled “Feature Films Available At Launch and Beyond.” Asked by Deadline for clarification, a publicist at an outside firm working for the company emailed back, “The biggest new piece in the press release is Harry Potter.”
An HBO Max rep declined to comment.