TV rights to unfinished Harry Potter movie go on sale at £50m

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The Independent Culture

Harry Potter looks likely to break another record in America, where television rights to screen the forthcoming film are reportedly being touted for almost £50m.

The deal would more than double the previous record held by the film Titanic. NBC had to pay £21m for their viewers to watch the exploits of the doomed cruise ship.

But what makes the Potter deal remarkable is that executives are being asked to bid before they have seen Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, according to Time magazine. One network official approached by Warner Brothers said: "It's obscene."

Obscene or not, there is no mistaking the level of interest in the film, which is due to be released in four months.

Obtaining the rights to the film – based on the vastly successful first book in the author J K Rowling's series about the schoolboy wizard – would be a coup for any of the four main television networks.

Selling the television rights to the film before it has been completed would be unprecedented. The New York Post reported yesterday that network executives had been shown a 15-minute extended trailer to help them make their decision.

In effect, this arrangement would mean the network that bought the rights would be forced to pay up even in the unlikely event that the film was a turkey at the box-office.

Warner Bros insisted no figure had been set, but admitted it had met bosses from NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. The company called the talks "informational" – a euphemism it would take a wizard to decipher.

Chris Colombus, the director of the $110m (£78m) Harry Potter film, has promised fans that the movie will remain as true to the book as possible. Daniel Radcliffe will play Harry, and the film's other stars will include Robbie Coltrane, Dame Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Richard Harris and John Hurt.