Warner Bros. seems to already have a recipe for reviving the legendary show, and is more likely to be accepted by the public than making a reboot version: a reunion session.
This can be seen from the latest reunion session aired by Warner Bros. via HBO Max, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Return to Hogwarts. Prior to Return to Hogwarts, HBO Max released The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion in 2020 and Friends: The Reunion in 2021.
For Return to Hogwarts, this reunion event for Harry Potter fans airs less than a year after Friends The Reunion which was released in May 2021. A similar time lapse also occurred between Friends The Reunion and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion which was released in November 2020 .
Like the two reunion sessions, Return to Hogwarts is a moment for Harry Potter fans who may now have three heads and have children, to reminisce about their favorite shows as children and teenagers.
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The nostalgic atmosphere is clearly felt from Return to Hogwarts. The formula is the same as Friends The Reunion and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion: inviting the original cast to come to the same or at least set up similar to the original set.
Coupled with the chat between players reminiscing about the past and the impact the show had on them, it will definitely provide a nostalgic session of its own not only for the players but also for the fans.
The same impact is still felt through Return to Hogwarts. Some of the information is already familiar to fans. However, there is also some information that Potterheads had never imagined before, at least for me, who was ‘happy’ to be a part of the magic school.
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But compared to Friends The Reunion, Return to Hogwarts has a better execution. At least, there are no sudden costume runway sessions like Halloween from artists who actually have nothing to do with the show’s story.
Return to Hogwarts is also more focused on the cast and crew, and is made as if old friends chat and reality show-style confessions. With most of the chats hosted by Daniel Radcliffe, the chats of the cast and crew definitely felt more relaxed and intimate.
The nostalgic plot is also made neater by dividing the chapters that describe a number of important moments from the world of Harry Potter. The emotional moments also clearly look as prepared and orchestrated as possible.
This one hour 38 minute film is also more focused on the production of the Harry Potter series, rather than the story and ideas of the Child Who Lived which was actually the brainchild of JK Rowling. So, Rowling’s role feels sidelined in this film.
This can be seen from Return to Hogwarts which did not invite Rowling at all. Rowling’s interviews that appear are only archives from 2019, the era before her controversial views on transgender groups sparked protests and opposition from Harry Potter players.
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I as one of the fans was actually quite disappointed when JK Rowling was not directly involved in the reunion session. After all, Rowling is the beginning of the wizarding world of Harry Potter which is able to inspire millions of Potterheads in the world.
Even so, the decision of director Casey Patterson and the producers not to include Rowling considering the controversy that has occurred is also understandable. Obviously Warner Bros. didn’t want to stir up something that could be controversial from the group that was offended by Rowling.
Apart from Rowling’s absence which made this reunion session feel less special, a number of players who played iconic figures were not visible. For example, Michael Gambon who plays Albus Dumbledore from the third to eighth film, Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge, Julie Walters as Molly Weasley, or Maggie Smith who becomes Professor McGonagall.
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Even though these characters have a significant role and impression in the Harry Potter story. Fans will definitely recognize their faces, even remember the iconic scenes or styles of these characters and the reasons they are loved or hated.
But as the film progresses, Return to Hogwarts shows how many of the top British actors were involved and the characters that appeared in the world of Harry Potter. So it feels like a challenge in itself in determining who should be featured in the reunion session.
Even so, considering that this documentary is broadcast on streaming services, duration should not be an obstacle. Moreover, this film is definitely only awaited by Harry Potter fans who will certainly be willing to take time to reminisce with the magical world of Harry Potter.