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NBCUniversal strikes deal for 'Harry Potter' films and theme park extras

NBCUniversal is continuing under the spell of “Harry Potter,” striking a deal with Warner Bros. to bring films of the juggernaut franchise to NBCUniversal’s television channels.

The agreement, announced Monday, extends the relationship between the two media companies by conveying commercial television rights for the films of J.K. Rowling’s “Wizarding World” franchise, including “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

Beginning in July 2018, the NBC broadcast network and cable channels USA Network and Syfy will televise the movies, including director cuts of the first two films.

NBCUniversal, owned by cable giant Comcast, also will be able to use “Wizarding World” characters and other story elements from J.K. Rowling’s fiction for its Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando, Fla., Los Angeles and Japan.

NBCUniversal has seen a renaissance of its Universal Studios theme park division due to the popularity of the Harry Potter attractions. 

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The deal suggests that cable channels are looking to maintain their relevance among consumers who have been scaling back their cable TV packages or ditching them altogether. The “Harry Potter” films remain popular with younger audiences, which advertisers pay a premium to reach.

The partnership could be worth about $200 million, but could go as high as $250 million depending on the performance of “Fantastic Beasts,” according to a person familiar with the matter.  The first installment arrives in theaters this year.

The NBCUniversal-Warner Bros. agreement will extend through April 2025.

“We feel this is a perfect new home for the ‘Harry Potter’ films and the upcoming ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films,” said Jeffrey R. Schlesinger, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution, in a statement. 

“Having all of these films in one place builds upon the existing relationship we already have with NBCUniversal and J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, and creates many exciting new opportunities across multiple platforms for both our companies and the fans of this franchise,” Schlesinger said.

meg.james@latimes.com

@MegJamesLAT

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UPDATES:

4:25 p.m.: This post was updated with additional information.

This article was originally published at 11:50 a.m.

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