Warner Bros. Responds to J.K. Rowling Controversy

Warner Bros. late June 10 issued a statement pertaining to comments “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling made last weekend about transgender identity. In a series of posts on social media, Rowling said women should be identified by their biological sex rather than gender identity.

“If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction,” Rowling wrote on her website. “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

Rowling’s comments produced pushback on social media from the LGBTQ community and supporters claiming the author was advocating against her own message of inclusivity and empathy found in many “Harry Potter” books.

“Potter” stars Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe, in addition to “Fantastic Beasts” star Eddie Redmayne took to social media in support of the transgender community.

“Transgender women are women,” Radcliffe wrote on a post. “Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter …”

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Warner said the events in the past several weeks affirmed its resolve as a company to confront difficult societal issues — including fostering a diverse and inclusive culture.

“We deeply value the work of our storytellers who give so much of themselves in sharing their creations with us all,” the studio said in a statement. “We recognize our responsibility to foster empathy and advocate understanding of all communities and all people, particularly those we work with and those we reach through our content.”

For Warner, the controversy comes as Rowling is writing the script for Fantastic Beasts 3 and other projects near and dear to the studio’s bottom line. The “Potter” movie franchise has resulted in more than $6.5 billion at the global box office, in addition to millions more in home entertainment sales.

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Tops ‘Watched at Home’ Chart for Third Week

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final installment in Disney’s “Star Wars” sequel trilogy, was No. 1 for the third consecutive week on the “Watched at Home” chart the week ended April 18.

The film’s run at the top of the weekly chart, which tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, has been extended by the lack of any high-profile theatrical releases coming into the home video pipeline, due to the closure of movie theaters more than a month ago as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-at-home orders.

The Rise of Skywalker vaunted into the top spot on the chart — which measures disc sales, digital purchase (electronic sellthrough, or EST) and digital rental — three weeks ago in the wake of its release on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD.

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Sony Pictures’ Bad Boys for Life shot up to No. 2 from No. 4 on the “Watched at Home” chart, its popularity perhaps fanned by marketing in support of the film’s April 21 debut on disc. The third “Bad Boys” film was released digitally on March 31 due to the pandemic but had already grossed more than $200 million in North American theaters, making it the top box office earner in the franchise.

Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog slipped to No. 3  on the “Watched at Home” chart after two weeks in the second spot. The film, based on the iconic video game character, was another early digital release (March 31) and is scheduled to come out on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on May 21.

Universal Pictures’ Dolittle, a fantasy comedy adventure film about a veterinarian (played by Robert Downey Jr.) who can communicate with animals, slipped to No. 4 from No. 3, while Sony Pictures’  Jumanji: The Next Level remained at No. 5 for the second week.

Fox’s Underwater and Warner’s Just Mercy both debuted in the top 20 for the first time after they were released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

Underwater, which bowed at No. 13 on the “Watched at Home” chart, is a science-fiction horror film, starring Kristen Stewart, that grossed just over $40 million at the domestic box office.

Just Mercy, which entered the chart at No. 15, is a legal drama starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx with a $50 million North American theatrical take.

Stay-at-home orders also appear to be making people rediscover older movies, as evidenced by the “Watched at Home” chart debut, at No. 20, of Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection, from Warner. The boxed set also is No. 1 on Amazon’s “Kids & Family” best sellers.

  1. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
  2. Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
  3. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  4. Dolittle (Universal)
  5. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
  6. The Call of the Wild (Disney, 2020)
  7. The Gentlemen (STX/Universal, 2019)
  8. Birds of Prey (Warner)
  9. 1917 (Universal)
  10. Little Women (Sony, 2019)
  11. Bloodshot (Sony, 2020)
  12. The Way Back (Warner)
  13. Underwater (Fox)
  14. Knives Out (Lionsgate)
  15. Just Mercy (Warner)
  16. Ford v Ferrari (Fox)
  17. Spies in Disguise (Fox)
  18. Onward (Disney)
  19. Frozen II (Disney)
  20. Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended April 18

Warner Bros. To Open First-Ever ‘Harry Potter’ Flagship Store in New York

Warner Bros. says it will open the first official “Harry Potter” flagship store later this year in the heart of New York City next to the Flatiron building at 935 Broadway.

The retail store will house the largest collection of “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” products in the world under one roof with everything from personalized robes, DVDs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, to a brand-new range of house wands with a design exclusive to the New York location.

Spanning three floors and over 20,000 sq. ft., the space will provide fans of the J.K. Rowling novels and franchise movies with a number of exciting retail experiences that evoke the magic of the Wizarding World.

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“This will be the largest dedicated Harry Potter store in the world and will become a must-visit fan destination where Harry Potter enthusiasts can engage with interactive experiences and numerous photo opportunities as they step into the magic,” Sarah Roots, SVP of worldwide tours and retail at Warner Bros., said in a statement. “We are very excited to be opening in New York. It’s the ideal city in which to launch with so many dedicated Wizarding World fans, a cutting-edge retail environment and a community that embraces innovative experiences.”

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Sony Seeking Fiscal Partner for Crackle

Sony Pictures Entertainment reportedly is looking for a fiscal partner to help expand Crackle.com, the ad-supported streaming video service it acquired in 2006 for $65 million.

In an employee email first reported by Deadline, Mike Hopkins, former CEO of Hulu and now chairman of Sony Pictures Television, said that the right minority partner could help “drive scale and position [Crackle] to be more competitive.”

“Crackle is a tremendously valuable asset for us, and with premium [ad-supported VOD] getting more and more traction as advertisers seek high value online advertising opportunities, we feel there is room for greater growth for our OTT business,” Hopkins wrote. “With the right partner – one that could bring additional content or users or leverage existing assets for advertising and promotion – we feel we can expand Crackle’s audience and significantly increase revenue.”

The streaming platform is recent years has moved into original programming to better compete against Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Roku’s ad-supported channel, among others.

Original forays included “The Art of More,” and “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” featuring Jerry Seinfeld playing hooky with various celebrities, including then-President Barack Obama. The series has since been acquired by Netflix.

Crackle just announced it will begin streaming the second season of original series, “Snatch,” starring Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint, who is also an executive producer of the 10-episode drama.