On New Year’s Day, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts will stream on HBO Max in the US and NOW in the UK. The documentary reunites major cast members of the original eight Wizarding World movies, two decades after Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone first hit cinemas. But in the run-up to the special’s release, the lack of creator JK Rowling’s involvement has caused controversy.
It’s speculated that the Harry Potter author isn’t in the documentary following comments she’s made online about transgenderism, although neither Warner Bros nor HBO have officially explained her glaring absence.
It all kicked off in June 2020 when Rowling objected to the term “people who menstruate” rather than using the word women.
Since then, the writer has spoken of the dangers of erasing the concept of sex and penned a long follow-up blog on her views.
Some of the Harry Potter stars including the lead trio Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have distanced themselves from her comments, publicly making statements like “Trans women are women. Trans men are men.”
Rowling may not be a talking head in the new Return to Hogwarts Harry Potter special with key cast members, but “the power of her writing” was praised.
Having her only feature in archive footage with stars has seen some critics blast the reunion.
The Telegraph’s two star review asked the question: “Where’s JK Rowling when we need her most?”
The outlet said that the author “does pop up in a handful of brief clips from 2019”, however went on to highlight her “prominent absence”.
The outlet wrote: “The fact that Rowling isn’t sitting there in the Gryffindor common room or walking down Diagon Alley, with the actors who were children at the time acknowledging what their careers owe to her, seems like a strange and key omission.
“It’s like the younger royals having a celebratory Buckingham Palace knees-up and not inviting the Queen.”
Aside from the main trio, other cast members who feature in the special include Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs and Voldemort star Ralph Fiennes.
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts broadcasts on Sky and streaming service NOW on January 1, 2022.