If you can’t quite wrap your head around the fact that it’s been 20 years since the first Harry Potter film came out, you are not alone. Many of the stars feel the same way, as recounted in the new reunion special “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts.” The franchise took off with 2001’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and since then, four different directors adapted J.K. Rowling’s seven-part book series into eight films, splitting “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” into two parts.
The reunion special itself is split into four chapters of sorts, covering two films each, laid out like so: “Ch. 1: The Boy Who Lived – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” “Ch. 2: Coming of Age – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Ch. 3: The Light and Dark Within – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” and “Ch. 4: Something Worth Fighting For – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One and Part Two.” Multiple smaller subtitles exist within these four main parts, such as sections devoted to Draco Malfoy, Lord Voldemort, the Weasley Family, Creating Hogwarts and so much more.
So when and where is the special debuting, who all is in it, and will it ever be airing elsewhere? All your questions answered below.
What Time Does “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” Premiere?
The 20-year reunion debuts at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2022.
Is the “Harry Potter” Reunion Streaming?
Yes, starting Jan. 1 the “Harry Potter” reunion special will only be available to watch exclusively on HBO Max, which offers an ad-supported subscription for $9.99 per month and an ad-free plan for $14.99 per month.
Will the “Harry Potter” Reunion Special Be on TV?
While the only way to watch the special initially is on HBO Max, it will also air on the cable networks of TBS and Cartoon Network at some point in spring 2022 to drum up interest for the third “Fantastic Beasts” movie, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” which opens in theaters on April 15, 2022.
Is the “Harry Potter” Reunion a Movie?
Not quite. While the special does run 103 minutes in length, it’s still a reunion special in the vein of the “Friends” reunion that also debuted on HBO Max.
Most of the cast members gather together on sets from the films (which have been preserved at Leavesden outside London) to revisit the ten years they spent — along with numerous craft, costume and makeup crew — bringing one of the most beloved book series to life on the big screen. The central trio of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ronald Weasley) discuss in depth the ups and downs and everything in between of the decade they spent together.
Radcliffe, Grint and Watson are joined by many other cast members to unpack character dynamics, relationships on and off set, learning acting from “the cream of the British actors,” and specific memories that lined up with certain films, while Chris Columbus — who directed the first two “Harry Potter” films — is also present for the festivities (the other directors appear via interviews filmed elsewhere). Even those who have passed on are given their due tribute by those who remember working with them and will forever be impacted by them.
Who Is in “Harry Potter” Reunion Special?
Of course the three main actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson anchor the special, just as they did the films. Fellow supporting actors of characters Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley) and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) make their way back to Hogwarts as well. Even some of the older generation of witches and wizards reflect on the experience, such as Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix L’estrange), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort) and even Toby Jones who voices Dobby the House Elf. Ian Hart (Professor Quirrell) and Imelda Staunton (Professor Dolores Umbridge) briefly appear to contribute input, while directors Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell and David Yates offer insight into their experiences on the franchise. Producer David Heyman pops in throughout the special as well.
A specific segment of the reunion calls back to actors, actresses and more crew whom we have lost in the years since the films rolled out. Filmic tributes were paid to several key figures in the eight movies, starting with Richard Harris, who played the first iteration of Albus Dumbledore. Other actors who have since died include Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon Dursley), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) and Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy).
Michael Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore, and Maggie Smith do not appear in the reunion special and are only briefly mentioned, while Julie Walters who played Molly Weasley does not appear but is given a loving tribute by the actors.
Is J.K. Rowling in the “Harry Potter” Reunion?
Kind of. Following her ongoing controversial comments about the trans community, Rowling appears only in archival footage shot in 2019 for the “Harry Potter” museum tour in London. She is not part of the newly shot footage for the reunion.
Where Are the “Harry Potter” Movies Streaming?
All eight Harry Potter movies are available to stream on HBO Max as well as on Peacock — NBCUniversal’s streaming service — with a Premium subscription price of $4.99 per month.