It's been a troubling few days for Harry Potter fans, as JK Rowling has ignited a massive controversy online through her view on transgender rights. Fans and industry professionals alike have taken issue with the best-selling author's assertion that transwomen are not real women. Now Warner Bros. has also waded into the matter, issuing the following statement.
"The events in the last several weeks have firmed our resolve as a company to confront difficult societal issues. Warner Bros.' position on inclusiveness is well established, and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture has never been more important to our company and to our audiences around the world. We deeply value the work of our storytellers who give so much of themselves in sharing their creations with us all. 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."
That sounds like saying a whole lot without meaning anything concrete. Aside from vague assertions of fostering inclusivity, the studio has not made any direct reference to Rowling's tweets or their future relationship with the author, arguably their most lucrative relationship with any single creator at the moment.
It was Warner Bros. that teamed up with J.K. Rowling to bring the world of Harry Potter to the big screen. The result was a film series that was the most lucrative franchise in Hollywood's history until Disney's MCU stole its thunder.
Currently, Warner Bros. is working with Rowling on the successful Fantastic Beasts saga that includes 5 movies, and once those films are done, the studio is likely to keep prodding Rowling to create more Harry Potter spinoffs that would continue to reap gold at the box-office for decades to come, in the same manner as Star Wars.
Thus, it is understandable that Warner Bros. would be reluctant to call out Rowling publicly or immediately sever all ties with her. On the other hand, the author shows no signs of backing down despite a storm of criticism, and she recently wrote an essay on her website where she doubled down on her controversial views and vowed to continue espousing them despite the backlash.
If the trend continues, soon Warner Bros. will have no choice but to cut all ties with Rowling or risk a boycott from audiences. Already, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and other cast and crew members of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts have denounced Rowling's views on social media.
It will be interesting to see how all this affects the work currently being done on the third part of Fantastic Beasts. The franchise had already become mired in controversy after Johhny Depp, who plays Gellert Grindlewald in the films, was accused of domestic abuse by then-wife Amber Heard. Then Ezra Miller, who plays Credence Barebone, was caught on video assaulting a fan. And now the controversy surrounding Rowlling threatens to surpass both those incidents as the biggest threat to the franchise's success. This was first reported by Deadline.