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So what's going on with this 'Harry Potter' HBO Max series?

Ever since HBO Max shoved its way into the crowded streaming arena, a Harry Potter television series has felt like a near-inevitability. Never mind that the films are headed to Peacock or the author’s troubling recent streak of transphobia, but the wizarding world remains among the most crucial properties for WarnerMedia. Well, something may finally be coming together.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a Harry Potter series is in the early stages of development at HBO Max, where executives have been meeting with writers to walk through potential ideas for the show. (“Broad ideas have been discussed as part of the early-stage exploratory meetings,” is the industry parlance THR opts for.) No writers or talent are attached at press time, and HBO Max even denies the existence of the show. “There are no Harry Potter series in development at the studio or on the streaming platform,” reps for HBO Max and Warner Bros. told the Hollywood Reporter. Hmm.

If this sounds overly similar to the Game of Thrones prequel news from last week, you’d be onto something. HBO Max is reportedly in the early development stages of a second prequel series, based on George R. R. Martin’s Tales of Dunk and Egg. With fewer unadapted Harry Potter properties on tap for a television series, it’s harder to pin down a premise for the show, although you could go in any number of directions — old timey prequel like the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy video game, the Potter/Weasley kids, a WandaVision-style sitcom riff with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint returning. Whichever way they swerve, it’s a guaranteed hit.

That said, there’s never been a harder time to swallow putting an abundance of new royalties into J. K. Rowling’s pockets. Last year saw the famed author sprinting through the vicious cycle of publishing a series of vehemently anti-trans tweets, facing significant blowback from trans rights groups and activists online, and publishing lengthy blog posts, defending her right to say whatever she wants and decrying cancel culture. Paired with Johnny Depp’s Fantastic Beasts exit amid horrifying abuse allegations and a public legal battle, you can understand why you might want to keep a new trip to Hogwarts under wraps for now. But like any other too-big-to-fail property, there’s almost no chance HBO Max punts on this thing in the long run.