Since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first released in 1997, the Wizarding World franchise has been delighting kids and adults from all over the world. Even though the book series wrapped up over a decade ago, there’s been a steady release of films, video games, and other media to keep fans engaged, not to mention The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks.
Unfortunately, for all the delight and wonder that the franchise has brought us, it seems like Warner Bros. is keen on stomping out the magic for some. As reported by The Guardian, the entertainment giant has been cracking down on Harry Potter-themed fan festivals, which have, for the most part, been held without any issue in years past.
The latest victim of Warner Bros. tirade? An annual Potter-themed festival held in idyllic Chestnut Hill suburb of Philadelphia. Chestnut Hill’s business district director, Philip Dawson, was contacted by Warner Bros. last month, who outlined the guidelines and restrictions that the event had to abide by. The new rules prevented any use of places, names, or objects from the Harry Potter films and books, shuttering any plans for meet-and-greets with characters to Defense Against the Dark Arts classes.
The new restrictions also impacted Chestnut Hill College, which had plans to host a Quidditch tournament to coincide with the festival in town. Speaking to The Guardian, Dawson explained that the festival, which had around 45,000 attendees in 2017, will still have a “wands and wizards” family night and pub crawl, along with other generic, magic-themed festivities.
Warner Bros. had this to say in regards to fan gatherings and festivals:
“Warner Bros is always pleased to learn of the enthusiasm of Harry Potter fans but we are concerned, and do object, when fan gatherings become a vehicle for unauthorized commercial activity”
Chestnut Hill wasn’t the only one to be contacted regarding their planned festivities. “Wizarding Weekend” in Ithaca, New York began as an alleyway celebration in 2015 and drew in more than 20,000 attendees last year. Darlynne Overbaugh, the festival director, was sent a letter from Warner Bros. in February, which axed her plans for events such as Sorting Hat Demonstrations.
“I have a lot of disappointed people because there are certain aspects of festival I’m no longer able to do,” Overbaugh said, adding “Magic existed before Harry Potter, and you can’t put a trademark on enthusiasm and creativity.”
While Warner Bros. actions might come as news to some, it is by no means the first time the company has meddled with fan-hosted events. In 2003, a woman hosting a Hogwarts-themed dinner party was sent a cease and desist letter.