In a last-minute work of magic, all eight Harry Potter films are available for streaming on HBO Max, the WarnerMedia streaming service that launched Wednesday in the United States. As subscribers set up their accounts and began to scroll through the content catalog offered at launch, they discovered the films in the library, though The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second Fantastic Beasts film, is available on "HBO Max via the HBO service."
Although HBO Max boasts an impressive library, the Harry Potter franchise had seemed to be off the table. As TVLine reports, Universal acquired the rights to the franchise, including the Fantastic Beasts spin-offs, in 2016. That deal included on-air and digital rights to all of the films and meant the company could air the movies across all their television channels, including USA Network and Syfy, through 2025. This means that WarnerMedia had to shed some big bucks to buy back what it had previously owned, with industry analyst Matthew Ball calling it a "big, costly, and important move."
Just prior to the new streaming service's launch, Kevin Reilly, HBO Max content chief, told Business Insider that there was "no timetable" but mentioned it was "high on our priority list." He added that there was "active engagement around that discussion" and noted that although Universal could hold onto their rights to the franchise to boost its own streaming service, Peacock, "the marketplace is shifting… and it creates a lot of opportunities for horsetrading."
Based on J.K. Rowling's family-friendly series of books of the same name, the Harry Potter films were released between 2001 and 2011, collectively grossing $7.7 billion for Warner Bros. The titles include Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1; and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. The franchise starred Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, and Emma Roberts as Hermione Granger.
The Harry Potter films join a long list of other titles available on HBO Max. The streaming service boasts more than 10,000 hours of content from HBO; new original series; third-party licensed content; movies from Warner Bros., New Line and DC; and content from other WarnerMedia brands including CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, and Looney Tunes. A subscription to the streamer costs $14.99. Existing HBO subscribers and many AT&T customers will have the service added at no cost.