Pottermore and Warner Bros form new joint venture

Pottermore and Warner Bros form new joint venture

Harry Potter digital business Pottermore and movie studio Warner Bros have set up a joint venture to “widen and deepen” how they exploit the franchise online. The Wizarding World Digital brings together the two key rights-holders, enabling the new venture to have access to content and background materials from the original Harry Potter series and spin-off Fantastic Beasts.

A new team is to be established under an incoming managing director. The team will include those already working at Pottermore, with the company saying that no jobs have been lost as a result of the development. Pottermore Publishing, which publishes the digital books and audio downloads, is unaffected, the company said, and its publishing schedule would continue.

Pottermore chairman Neil Blair, the author J K Rowling’s agent, who established Pottermore in 2012 to publish the e-books and digital audio from the Harry Potter series and to build an online presence for the series, told The Bookseller that it had been his intention for some-time to bring the rights-holders together, with Pottermore hitherto only having limited access to the film content, produced by Warner Bros. The aim, a statement from Pottermore read, was to "put fans, new and old, at its heart" and to cater to "a broader audience than our current digital channels”.

Blair told The Bookseller: "This venture will widen and deepen what we have been able to do on Pottermore so far. There's no reason now why we won't be able to do something because there's a rights issue. The only limits will be our imaginations and what technology is available."

Blair added that announcements about new content and services would be made in due course. He said he did not want to pre-judge how the new management team would develop the joint venture, but said that access to the current Pottermore content would shift to a new domain name. Pottermore is now in the process of emailing subscribers so that the new venture, WWD, can continue to contact them.

Pottermore was launched in 2012 as an interactive world based around each book in the original series, as well as the e-commerce site for the e-book and audio download versions of the seven books. In 2015 it morphed into an online encyclopaedia and Wizarding World news service, with the e-books and audio downloads made accessible on third-party retailer site for the first time. Pottermore's revenues, built principally from the publishing side, have now grown from £7m in 2015 to £15m in 2016 to 2017's £40.3m, before falling back to £32.8m in the year to end-March 2018 during which period no new J K Rowling book content was produced. In March 2018 the company confirmed a small number of redundancies and indicated that it was working on a new strategy for the business.