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NBCUniversal Grabs TV, Digital Rights to ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Movies

NBCUniversal is going deep on J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World universe, nabbing  TV and digital rights to Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” movies in a pact that also incorporates content for Universal theme parks.

The eight “Harry Potter” pics will become available to NBCU channels as of July 1, 2018. USA Network and Syfy will be the principle homes for the titles although the pics may also air on other Peacock cablers and digital platforms. The first “Fantastic Beasts” pic is set for release in November of this year, which means it will probably be available to NBCU sometime in 2019.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the pact, estimated it could be worth as much as $250 million for Warner Bros., depending on the box office performance of the “Fantastic Beasts” pics.

The deal expands NBCU’s existing relationship with Rowling’s Wizarding World properties at its theme parks. “Harry Potter” installations at Universal Studios parks in Florida, Hollywood and Japan have been a huge boon to NBCU’s theme park business.

“J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World has captured the imagination of fans of all ages, from all walks of life, all over the world — and I’m definitely one of them,” said NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer. “I’m thrilled that our networks will be the home for this brilliant storyteller’s magical creations for years to come.”

The pact promises to bring more movie screenings and promotional events to Universal theme parks. NBCU, Warner Bros. and Rowling also intend to collaborate on new digital initiatives to expand the Wizarding World franchise and its Pottermore digital hub.

“Each of the Harry Potter areas within our theme parks around the globe build on the incredible stories of J.K. Rowling and the amazing films created by Warner Bros.,” said Tom Williams, chairman-CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts. “These are special places where the entire family can experience the adventures of Harry Potter.”

The “Harry Potter” pics, released between 2001 and 2011, rank as the highest-grossing movie franchise in history with a worldwide haul of more than $7 billion. The titles have most recently aired on Disney’s Freeform cabler. HBO will retain pay TV rights to the “Fantastic Beasts” movies through its output pact with Warner Bros., its corporate sibling under the Time Warner umbrella.

“We are pleased to bring one of the most successful and enduring global franchises to the networks of NBCUniversal,” said Jeffrey R. Schlesinger, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution. “We feel this is a perfect new home for the ‘Harry Potter’ films and the upcoming ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films. 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.”

Disney has been shopping a TV rights deal for a similarly expansive package of the “Star Wars” movies, including last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the two other upcoming releases. NBCUniversal had been a contender for those rights but Disney has yet to strike a deal after months of back and forth with prospective buyers that include Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting and FX.

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