You’d think that when HBO Max broke all expectations and brought the Harry Potter series onto the proprietary streaming home of all things Warner Bros, it’d stay put for a good long while. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as all eight movies are leaving the relatively young platform by the end of August, despite being added at the last minute as an opening day surprise. And as it turns out, there’s a pretty good reason for all of this back and forth between HBO Max and the new streaming home of Harry Potter, NBCUniversal’s fledgling provider Peacock, and we’re doing a quick dive into how and why this has happened.
What's Happening With All 8 Harry Potter Movies
As previously mentioned, all eight movies, from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, will be removed from HBO Max as of August 25. Those films will be made available for streaming through Peacock in October, and they’ll be open for the public to stream throughout the month. After which point, those films will go back into the vault, so to speak, and be released back onto Peacock’s lineup “in windows” throughout 2021. If you’re swearing about this development, you can thank one particular old friend for all of the heartache: rights issues!
How Licensing Deals Work With Streaming Services
Basically, when a streaming service gets the rights to a film series like Harry Potter, it can happen one of two ways: either those rights are pre-negotiated when the film is in theaters, or those rights can be purchased after the fact when someone else’s agreement expires. Harry Potter fans would be quite familiar with that second path, as the films used to run on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) for some time, after which they made a quick pitstop on HBO Go’s digital library and eventually landed at the NBCUniversal lot. However, there’s another interesting phenomenon we’ve seen happen as of late.
Either a company can buy out those particular streaming rights to its own IP, like Disney+ did with Star Wars, or special temporary deals can be hatched, such as the one that brought Harry Potter onto HBO Max for opening day. In the latter case, which is what we’re starting to see more of in recent times, the streaming rights were borrowed from NBCUniversal, which as of this moment has the broadcast and cable rights to the Harry Potter movies until 2025. With that agreement expiring soon, it's back to NBCUniversal the Potter movies go, unless another agreement is drafted or Warner Bros buys back the rights to the films, whichever comes first.
Other Major Franchises That Have Recently Switched Streaming Services
Harry Potter isn’t even the only series to encounter this fate in recent months, and Peacock strangely enough has seen itself at the mercy of such agreements itself. While the Jurassic Park trilogy was available for Peacock’s opening day push, those first three films in the entire Jurassic saga were shuttled back to their previous home at Netflix as of August 1. As another taunt to the HBO Max library’s supremacy, it currently has to share Batman Begins and The Dark Knight with Hulu, as well as Peacock, which will have those first two movies in the future as well.
In a world where Netflix saw Warner Bros making it pay for an extra year of Friends, and Peacock making a deal to get The Office back in time for its launch, the streaming market seems more volatile than ever. Harry Potter’s big franchise-wide shuffle is only the latest reminder that, at least for the time being, the agreements of the past will firmly dictate the chaos of the future. If you want to take one last chance to say goodbye to all eight Harry Potter films, you’d better do so on HBO Max before August 25. After that point, you’ll have to wait until October for them to resurface on Peacock for a full month before disappearing again.
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Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.