Survey Says J.K. Rowling Has Not Been Canceled, Despite Author's Claim

Though Rowling's popularity is waning, fans aren’t looking to boycott the Harry Potter franchise and still want more films
April 14, 2022 at 5:00 am UTC

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has a history of espousing what many have deemed to be transphobic views, leading some fans and observers on social media to call for boycotts of the Potter series and its related products. 

Though Rowling’s standing among U.S. consumers has fallen in recent years, neither the majority of Harry Potter fans nor Americans in general are likely to boycott any part of the entertainment franchise based on her books, according to a new Morning Consult survey. Despite the author’s claims that she had been canceled for her comments, in the United States, at least, the data says otherwise.

Rowling’s Spell Over Younger Consumers Has Diminished After Comments Against Transgender Women

Net favorability for J.K. Rowling in 2018 vs. 2022
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Net favorability is the share of those who have a favorable opinion minus the share of those who have an unfavorable opinion.
Surveys conducted Sept. 5-9, 2018, and April 8-10, 2022, among representative samples of 6,609 and 2,210 U.S. adults, respectively, with respective unweighted margins of error of +/- 1 and 2 percentage points.

Millennials, once reliable fans, have cooled on J.K. Rowling

  • Today, Rowling has a net favorability rating of 35 among U.S. adults, down 23 percentage points since September 2018. (Net favorability is the share of those who have a favorable opinion minus the share of those who have an unfavorable opinion.) The author and screenwriter’s net favorability rating has also decreased by 31 points among millennials and 36 points among Gen Zers. In the years since 2018, Rowling has frequently made public remarks that many have argued are transphobic.
  • Roughly half (49%) of adults said their view of an artist, author, actor, film director or influencer would be negatively impacted if the individual made transphobic comments. A quarter of respondents said transphobic comments would have no impact on their feelings. 
  • Roughly 2 in 5 (42%) adults and millennials said they’d strongly or somewhat consider a boycott of an individual if they were accused of making transphobic remarks.

Consumers Still Generally Interested in Harry Potter Content

Respondents were asked if they were interested in prequels, sequels or additional installments of the following TV series and films:
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Survey conducted April 8-10, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points.

How the ‘Wizarding World’ franchise stacks up against others

  • More than 3 in 5 (63%) of millennials and 82% of self-identified Harry Potter fans are still interested in additional content from the franchise’s “Wizarding World.” 
  • Among adults overall, 46% said they’re eager for more Harry Potter content, but demand for the franchise ranked behind that of the “Jurassic World,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” James Bond, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and “Star Wars” franchises. Demand for more Harry Potter films was down 3 points from October, when 49% of U.S. adults said they were interested in more from the franchise.
  • Despite some social media users calling for a boycott of Harry Potter content, consumers largely oppose taking that action. Approximately half of adults, along with roughly 3 in 5 of the franchise’s fans, said they wouldn’t boycott the Harry Potter book series, the “Fantastic Beasts” film series or Harry Potter theme parks. 

Harry Potter fans remain loyal, but more controversies are stewing

The drama surrounding Rowling, who declined to comment via a spokesperson, doesn’t appear to have made a serious dent in the Potter franchise’s fandom, as the data reveals fans are showing few signs of abandoning the franchise that has spawned a theme park, seven books, 11 movies and an upcoming video game and TV show (so far). 

Rowling herself has taken a step back from being the face of the franchise to focus on other endeavors (she does, however, share a screenwriting credit for “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” in theaters tomorrow). The franchise has problems beyond Rowling, including the personal behavior of “Fantastic Beasts” stars Ezra Miller and Johnny Depp. Warner Bros. is reportedly re-evaluating its commitment to the spinoff franchise due, in part, to the mounting controversies involving its talent.

“The Secrets of Dumbledore” is projected to open somewhere in the $40 million to $55 million range this weekend, according to analysts. While that would be a smaller opening than previous entries in the series, there is still an appetite for the franchise, even with Rowling’s involvement. The days of it dominating pop culture, however, are likely over — and backlash against the author certainly hasn’t helped. 

Survey conducted April 8-10, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Sarah Shevenock previously worked at Morning Consult as a reporter covering the business of entertainment.

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