HBO Max just conjured up an unexpected weapon in its battle to sign up new subscribers: the Harry Potter franchise. In a surprise development, all eight movies in the wizarding series will be a part of HBO Max’s opening day roster, the platform announced Wednesday. The films were not expected to be on HBO Max any time soon, since NBCUniversal had rights to the Potter package tied up until 2025. And while HBO Max execs had made it clear (as recently as this week) that they were interested in figuring out a way to get the movies for the service eventually, there had been no indication any such agreement would be reached in time for today’s launch.
As of the time this story was published, it was not immediately clear what changed — though logic suggests HBO Max parent WarnerMedia was able to hammer out some sort of deal with NBCU giving HBO Max streaming rights to the movies. An HBO Max rep was able to confirm that the service now has exclusive subscription video on demand rights to the Potter movies, all of which were produced by HBO Max sibling studio Warner Bros. Pictures. The movies had not be on a subscription streamer, like Netflix or Hulu, but NBCU-owned networks Syfy and USA have been making them available to stream on their websites. It’s unclear if HBO Max’s streaming “exclusivity” includes the ad-supported showings on the NBCU websites, but barring a complete ripping up of the 2016 pact, it seems likely NBCU will retain linear rights to the movies, allowing them to continue to air on broadcast and cable.
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