It appears that just two short months after HBO Max’s rather confusing launch, one of the major draws of the platform that marketers touted — all eight Harry Potter films in one place — will be leaving the platform within a month. That’s right. On Monday, WarnerMedia, the folks behind HBO Max, announced a massive list of departing and arriving films on the HBO Max platform and announced that come August 25, HBO Max subscribers will no longer be able to watch Harry and his friends get into misadventures and, ultimately, save the world, and learn some awesome spells. But why?
Well, it turns out that shortly before the launch of HBO Max, WarnerMedia made a deal with NBCUniversal that would allow them rights to the Harry Potter films through 2025; and right before HBO Max launched, they struck another deal with the company (which was soon to launch Peacock, yet another streaming service no one really asked for) to allow the movies to premiere on HBO Max. It appears that deal was short-lived, as the films will be leaving in just a month, and will likely not return to the platform until 2025, at the earliest.
Harry Potter is just the latest victim in what can only be referred to as the Exclusivity Window Streaming Wars of 2020. HBO Max dealt with this issue shortly after their platform launch, when the Justice League films disappeared shortly after launch from the platform. Peacock, on the other hand, has already announced titles that will be leaving the platform just a week after opening, including the Matrix films, Shrek, the original Jurassic Park films, and more.
All of these titles will functionally shuffle around streaming platforms in perpetuity. While this isn’t anything new — it’s basically how Netflix has always operated, keeping films and television shows on the platform for some time and announcing coming and going titles monthly — it is a bit frustrating to sign up for a bunch of streaming platforms for a certain suite of films on each platform and have them all disappear or switch to other platforms that one may or may not be subscribed to within a month of signing up. It’s like Keeping Up with the Jones’s, but for watching a movie at home.