Warner Bros. is tightening its legal hold on all things Harry Potter by shutting down local Potter fan festivals, according to the Associated Press. The company reportedly says it’s necessary to stop the unauthorized commercial activity.
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A gathering at Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill College was among those shut down. Warner Bros. told district director Philip Dawson that new guidelines “prohibit festivals’ use of any names, places or objects” from the Harry Potter series.
It’s as if Warner Bros. “has been taken over by Voldemort, trying to use dark magic to destroy the light of a little town,” says student Sarah Jo Tucker. “It was very quickly apparent (we) weren’t going to be able to hold festivals,” Dawson adds.
Consequently, other fests received the warning. For its part, WB holds the line on its Potter control. “We are concerned, and do object, when fan gatherings become a vehicle for unauthorized commercial activity,” the company states.
Warner Bros.’ crackdown on Harry Potter gatherings is obviously not sitting well with the franchise’s devoted fans. “They are acting like the Dursleys,” says one Potterhead. “Creating interest in the franchise would increase revenue.”
Why hold back Harry Potter fans?
Gregory Mandel, a professor of intellectual property law at Temple University, agrees with that assessment. “Obviously one could argue that is the wrong business decision and that by having these informal pop-up festivals, it makes all the Harry Potter fans more enthusiastic and more likely to go to the movies and theme parks,” he says.
Ithaca, New York’s “Wizarding Weekend” grew from a small celebration into a 20,000-strong festival. The fest’s director, Darlynne Overbaugh, received the letter from Warner Bros. in February. “Magic existed before Harry Potter,” she says, “and you can’t put a trademark on enthusiasm and creativity.”
“Warner Brothers certainly makes enough money from the Harry Potter franchise without having to shut down these festivals,” writes one Twitter user, per Mashable. “Our family absolutely loved Wizarding Weekend in Ithaca last year.”
Festival directors say they’ll revise their events into more general “celebrations of magic,” as reported by 6 ABC. The Harry Potter film series, based on novels by J. K. Rowling, was originally released by Warner Bros. from 2001 to 2011.
What do you think of Warner Bros.’ crackdown on Harry Potter-themed fan festivals? Do you participate in any Potter cosplay or fan fests? Sound off in the comments.
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