What if they threw a Harry Potter reunion party and J.K. Rowling didn't come? That appears to be the case with HBO Max's upcoming Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, which brings back the many, many faces who populated the film version of the Wizarding World … minus the world's controversial creator herself.
Rowling's name is conspicuously missing from the first trailer for the reunion, which premiered online Monday ahead of the special's HBO Max debut on Jan. 1. And fans on both sides of the ongoing debate noted the author's absence on Twitter.
The Rowling-free trailer follows recent news that two real-life Quiddatch organizations in the U.S. are looking to change the name of the sport to distance themselves from the author over her "anti-trans positions." Several cast members from the film franchise — including stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who do appear in the reunion — have also pushed back against the author's divisive comments about transgender individuals. Rowling's absence from the Return to Hogwarts guest list was first noted in November.
While the full special may yet include a reference to the author, the trailer focuses first and foremost on the cast members. In the tradition of HBO Max's wildly successful Friends reunion, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson are seen reminiscing about their time as Gryffindor's most famous residents. "We're family, and we'll always be a part of each other's lives," Grint remarks, as an entire generation of moviegoers who grew up in the early 2000s wipes away tears.
Also teased in the trailer are the returns of much-loved villains like Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who recalls how his young nieces and nephews cast the deciding vote in having him accept the part. "You've got to do it," he remembers his sister, Martha Fiennes, telling him.
Apart from the Rowling controversy, the promise of a Harry Potter reunion in 2022 brought some much needed year-end joy to Muggles and Wizards alike.
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts premieres Jan. 1 on HBO Max