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Harry Potter has officially reached 20 years of age. In celebration of the anniversary of the first movie’s release, WarnerMedia recently announced a retrospective. Original director Chris Columbus and the stars will participate in the special. However, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling won’t join the event. Here’s what we know about why Rowling won’t appear. 

The ‘Harry Potter’ film retrospective will be packed with huge names 

Harry Potter film series stars in a group photo
The cast of ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ | Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Harry Potter retrospective will air on HBO Max on New Year’s Day 2022. Moreover, it’s packed with names fans will be thrilled to see again. 

Stars Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Daniel Radcliffe lead the participants in Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts. Additionally, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Tom Felton, Alfred Enoch, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Ian Hart, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Imelda Staunton, Tom Felton,James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, and Bonnie Wright will join them. 

Finally, director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) will also appear. Columbus notably left directing duties on the Harry Potter film series after the second film. However, he subsequently produced Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban before leaving the franchise for good. 

HBO Max is an obvious fit for the new special because the streaming platform currently hosts all of the movies in the Harry Potter film series. 

J.K. Rowling won’t appear in the HBO Max special 

Notably absent from WarnerMedia’s release is the book series’ author, J.K. Rowling. No reason was given for Rowling’s lack of participation. However, the iconic author did court serious criticism when she made comments about the trans community in June 2020. 

THR cites “sources close to the project” saying that while she won’t be a part of the new production, Rowling will appear in archival footage. 

“It has been an incredible journey since the debut of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone film, and witnessing how it has evolved into this remarkable interconnected universe has been magical to say the least,” explained Tom Ascheim, president of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics, in a statement per THR. 

“This retrospective is a tribute to everyone whose lives were touched by this cultural phenomenon — from the talented cast and crew who poured their heart and soul into this extraordinary film franchise to the passionate fans who continue to keep the Wizarding World spirit alive 20 years later.”

‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’ precedes the release of the next ‘Fantastic Beasts’ film


‘Harry Potter’ Director Chris Columbus Admits He Was Sure He’d Be Fired From ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ Within 2 Weeks

J.K. Rowling’s controversial statements aside, the Harry Potter film series remains a beloved classic for many. Its enduring legacy continues with the April 15, 2022 release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. However, that movie had its own set of controversy — Johnny Depp resigned from the film amid pressure from producers over his alleged abuse of Amber Heard. He lost a libel lawsuit against her. 

Producers planned the release of the 20th-anniversary retrospective to precede the release of the Harry Potter film series prequel. 

To sum up, director Chris Columbus has already said plenty about the experience. And he’ll likely bring plenty of new details to the reunion with the original cast and crew members. 

As for Rowling, while she may not appear in new footage in the retrospective, her influence will undeniably be felt. Columbus said in a November 2021 interview with THR that he and Rowling saw the film adaptation as being “exactly the same way.” And in that way, the director and the source material remain perfectly aligned to this day.