The story of the boy who lived holds a special place in the hearts of millions across the world. While Rowling wrote the beloved original books, many know her wizarding universe from the famous Harry Potter movies. Does she, as the author, have rights to the films, too?
Harry Potter movies are owned by Rowling and Warner Bros. together. The studio holds the production rights to their projects, while Rowling still exclusively owns the rights to intellectual property. The ‘J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World’ brand is also shared by the author and Warner Bros.
Read on to find out who owns the Harry Potter movies and how much Rowling has to do with them. I will also discuss her rights to the Harry Potter brand and what it means for the future Harry Potter projects we all await.
What Rights Does J.K. Rowling Have To Harry Potter Movies?
Harry Potter is a huge franchise, and its system of ownership rights is complex. In fact, the brand name was changed years ago from Harry Potter to The Wizarding World to expand the universe even more and create even more projects within it, like the Fantastic Beasts movies.
So, it’s no wonder that making sense of who owns what can be challenging when we talk about Harry Potter. There are books, movies, merchandise, theme parks, stage plays, and the list keeps growing every year.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, the studio that created Harry Potter movies, owns the production rights to them. However, the rights don’t belong to them exclusively: they own the ‘J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World’ brand along with Rowling herself, films included.
To better understand what this means, let’s look at the example of the Star Wars series that was sold to Disney by George Lucas. Disney then proceeded to create their own original films in Lucas’s universe, as he sold all his rights to the franchise and had no control over what happens to it next.
With Rowling, the situation is quite different. While Warner Bros. holds production rights to its films, the intellectual property belongs entirely to its original author. Rowling has a say in everything the studio does with her series and remains involved in its future.
Does J.K. Rowling Make Money Off of Harry Potter Movies?
The information about Rowling’s profits in the frame of her contract with Warner Bros. is not public, so we can only wonder how much she makes off of the movies. However, we can be fairly certain that she does make money.
As I mentioned, Rowling owns the IP, meaning she exclusively holds the intellectual property rights. This inevitably makes anything Potter-related a source of profit to her, and that, of course, includes the eight Harry Potter movies.
We know she sold the rights to movie production to Warner Bros., which gave her millions of dollars initially. However, Rowling also likely gets a percentage of films’ profits; from what we know about contracts like this, it is probably around 10%.
Was J.K. Rowling Involved in Making Harry Potter Movies?
In 2022, Tom Felton made news with his Independent interview where he claimed Rowling wasn’t much involved in the production of the classic Harry Potter movies. While it is not uncommon for book authors to be excluded from working on adaptations of their works, the Harry Potter franchise is different in this, as well as many other ways.
As the owner of the IP, Rowling had the right to participate in the creative process as a consultant. She reviewed the script, helped with casting, and made sure the films were as true to her original books and characters as possible.
When the first movie was being made, only four Harry Potter books had been published, which made her involvement even more essential, as nobody but her knew what was coming next. She has a say in every decision, as only Rowling knew how to make the films coherent with the rest of the story.
In his interview, Tom Felton mentioned that he only saw Rowling a couple of times on set. While she wasn’t supervising the filming of each movie, earlier interviews of the cast suggest she still showed up and was involved in the process.
According to Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione Granger, Rowling wasn’t around that much in the beginning as she was busy writing the rest three books of the Harry Potter series. However, once all of them were out, she became a more frequent guest on set.
Still, those of us who have read the books tend to agree that, while the movies are good, they did not get everything right. Was it Rowling’s oversight, or did the scriptwriters and directors not listen to her at times remains unknown.
If you want to see a full comparison between the books and the movies, check my article on which one is better.
Is Harry Potter Owned by Disney?
It’s hard to tell what makes people think Harry Potter belongs to Disney. Maybe Disney’s ownership of some of the most popular franchises and big-time deals, such as purchasing Star Wars and Marvel, play into this. Still, the assumption is completely false.
Harry Potter is not owned by Disney. The rights to the movie franchise are shared by Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling, the author of the books. The rights to theme parks were sold to Universal Studios.
So, despite uniting a number of successful brands under its name, Disney doesn’t have a share in Harry Potter. Warner Bros. was quick to get the movie production rights, and when it came to theme parks, Rowling preferred the offer from Universal.
Harry Potter movies, along with the entire Wizarding World brand, belong both to J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. studio. To this day, Rowling exclusively holds the intellectual property rights to Harry Potter, which means she is involved in one way or another with any project related to her wizarding universe.
- Gerben: J. K. Rowling Trademarks
- J.K. Rowling: Legal
- Movie Web: The Wizarding World: Is There a Future For J.K. Rowling’s Franchise?
- The Things: What J. K. Rowling Has Said About The Harry Potter Films
- CNBC: In the Chamber of Secrets: J.K. Rowling’s net worth
- Irish Examiner: Watson delighted at Rowling involvement in Potter movies
- Independent: Tom Felton: ‘Emma Watson encouraged me to tell my whole story’
- Polygon: WB wants more Harry Potter movies — but what does that really mean?