‘Harry Potter’ tour heads to Tokyo as Warner Bros courts more Asia fans
By Michelle Toh, Marc Stewart and Emiko Jozuka, CNN
Hogwarts is coming to Tokyo, as Warner Bros. pushes to expand one of the most successful franchises in literary and cinematic history.
The company showed a preview of a new “Harry Potter” studio tour in the Japanese capital on Wednesday, its first outside the United Kingdom. The experience, which launches this summer, allows fans to wander the sets of Diagon Alley and Platform 9 3/4, and see original props and costumes from the films up close.
“We’ve kept it all,” Jeff Nagler, president of worldwide studio operations at Warner Bros., told CNN in an interview in Tokyo. Warner Bros. and CNN share the same parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD).
Nagler said the studio had chosen Japan because the country is one of its top markets — and also has potential to serve as a gateway to the wider Asia Pacific region.
“That was one of the easiest decisions for us actually,” he said, standing in front of a red Hogwarts Express train emitting gentle puffs of steam. “After the United States and after the UK, Japan is the third best area for ‘Harry Potter’ fandom.”
Nagler said he saw Asia Pacific as a vast, largely untapped opportunity for the company, with the new launch aimed at bringing in fans from countries such as China, South Korea and Australia.
“We see this tour as being able to attract … visitors from all of [those] regions,” he said. “It’s really going to open the market well for us here.”
The company’s existing London tour is already popular with US visitors, Nagler added: “But we weren’t having quite as many people from the Asia Pacific region.”
Warner Bros. declined to share revenue figures for its London tour business. But since opening its doors there in 2012, the studio has welcomed more than 17 million visitors, it said.
The Tokyo offering marks the latest addition to the “Harry Potter” franchise.
Last month, Warner Bros. also launched “Hogwarts Legacy,” a new video game tied to the series that allows users to cast spells, brew potions and explore an older version of Hogwarts set in the 1800s.
Warners Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has pointed to the game’s initial success, calling it a core part of the Hollywood giant’s overall strategy. In a February earnings call, he said it had racked up $850 million in retail sales in its first two weeks since launch.
The company wants to continue to capitalize on the popularity of the hit films, even though “we haven’t done a ‘Harry Potter’ movie in 15 years,” according to Zaslav.
The films “provided a lot of the profits of Warner Bros. Motion Pictures over the last 25 years,” he told analysts in a November results presentation.
“We are very fortunate to have a huge share of the most beloved and globally recognized storytelling IP in the world, including ‘Harry Potter,'” he said.
“We intend to take full advantage of these one-of-a-kind franchises across our various platforms.”
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