“Not a lot I can comment on, other than, since we did get so many [questions], I wanted to be responsive the best way I could.
“The way I think I’d like to do it is, I’d like to echo something you’ve heard from our most senior executive leadership.
“While JK Rowling is the creator of Harry Potter, and we are bringing that to life with the power of Portkey, in many places, she’s a private citizen also. And that means she’s entitled to express her personal opinion on social media. I may not agree with her, and I might not agree with her stance on a range of topics, but I can agree that she has the right to hold her opinions.”
The statement follows months of controversy around Rowling’s views on trans women and gender identity, which have drawn condemnation from the likes of Harry Potter actors Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe among others.
Warner Bros. has been drawn into the debate because of its somewhat uncertain connection with Rowling. WB Interactive has a licensing deal in place for Harry Potter, and makes franchise games under the Portkey Games label. While the company has made clear that Rowling is “not directly involved” with Hogwarts Legacy, it has declined to comment on whether the author will receive royalties from the game.It’s led to an ongoing discussion about boycotts for the game, with some arguing that the author’s views shouldn’t be tacitly supported by buying work associated with her, while others point out the potential negative consequences on the developers of the game (most of whom will have little say on the products they make) if sales are low.
It’s within the context of this debate that Haddad has been asked for his opinion – and his comments are likely to spark further debate around his company’s vested interests in Rowling’s work, and the intersection between public opinion and what many consider to be hate speech.
Schreier added that, later in the Q&A, Haddad answered a question specifically about diversity and inclusion in WB Interactive products, explaining that the company was working with LGBTQ organisations, and he had personally talked to the director of trans media representation at GLAAD. Haddad apparently did not mention Rowling in this context.