By Lesley Goldberg on May 19th, 2021
The era of the Harry Potter TV series is officially beginning.
In a bid to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, WarnerMedia has formally greenlit an unscripted quiz show and retrospective special that will air over five nights on streamer HBO Max and linear networks Cartoon Network and TBS at a date to be determined this year.
The untitled competition quiz show, which is now casting via WizardingWorld.com, will feature super fans competing to answer trivia questions with special guests set to also be featured in the four-episode series. The show will lead into a retrospective special. An online play-along component will also be part of the game show.
The game show and retrospective are the first official TV offshoots of J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter franchise and come after WarnerMedia tapped Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics president Tom Ascheim to oversee the Harry Potter franchise for the studio. Both the series and special are exec produced by Warner Bros. Unscripted TV and Warner Horizon. Robin Ashbrook and Yasmin Shackleton will exec produce the hourlong quiz show, while Casey Patterson (A West Wing Special, VAX Live) will oversee the retrospective. Sources say that while Rowling is not directly involved in either production, Warners collaborated with her team on the content.
“To celebrate the dedicated fans old and new who have passionately kept the Wizarding World magic alive in so many forms for decades, these exciting specials will celebrate their Harry Potter fandom in a must-see multiplatform TV event,” Ascheim said in a release Wednesday. “All Potter fans can gear up for this ultimate one-of-a-kind celebration by embracing their inner Hermione Granger and studying their Wizarding World knowledge. For fans who have always wanted to discover what it might be like to take the O.W.L. exams, this is as close as they are going to get!”
The unscripted specials arrive four months after THR exclusively reported that HBO Max was in the early stages of readying a live-action scripted series based on the boy wizard and his friends. Sources at the time noted the WarnerMedia-backed streamer engaged in multiple conversations with potential writers exploring various ideas that would bring the beloved Harry Potter property to television. Sources say broad ideas have been discussed as part of the early-stage exploratory meetings. While it’s news that executives at HBO Max and Warners are engaged in meetings to find a writer and pitch for a Harry Potter TV series, no writers or talent are currently attached as the conversations are still in the extremely early stages and no deals have been made. Warners at the time denied that any Harry Potter series were in the works.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first film in the franchise, debuted in November 2001 and became a global phenomenon. The decision to expand the franchise for television comes as NBCUniversal in 2016 inked a rich seven-year rights deal with Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution that included U.S. broadcast, cable and streaming rights to the Wizarding World franchise. That deal, which ends in April 2025, included digital initiatives as well as theme park content and events. The pact also meant Warners execs had to make a side deal that allowed all of the Harry Potter features to briefly stream on HBO Max when the service launched last year. The films left HBO Max after three months and recently returned to NBCUniversal streamer Peacock.
The decision to launch the quiz show and retrospective across HBO Max, Cartoon Network and TBS arrives as WarnerMedia continues to look for synergy across its portfolio in a bid to expose programming to a larger audience.