In what’s surely going to come as both bad news for theatre fans and extremely unsurprising news for everyone else, Melbourne’s Harry Potter-themed pop-up bar has been ordered to tear down its walls after losing a legal battle with Warner Bros.
The Vertic Alley pop-up on the rooftop of inner-city pub The Imperial originally opened in February, in-line with the premiere of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Princess Theatre, which sits less than 100 metres away on the same street.
The bar, a complete set design installed on the venue’s roof, included several wizarding-themed pods and was largely inspired by Diagon Alley from the books. Each area of the roof was themed for a different wizard store (Wizpac Bank, Bourke St Wands, the Imperial Owl Emporium, and etc), and was coupled with extensive decorations throughout the pub (including the quote “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good” on the stairwell leading up) as well as a Potter-themed drinks and food menu, which included items like Buttah Beer (spelled that way deliberately), and Harry’s Platter.
The only problem with all that being: The pub didn’t exactly get permission to do it.
After a near-three month stint of operation, the pub has today closed the rooftop and begun the process of tearing the installation down after Warner Bros. legal team intervened.
Representatives for Warner Australia spoke to The Age and asserted that the Warner US team stepped in after it became apparent the pop-up was a clear knock-off of Diagon Alley, and that the pub was making bulk coin off of it.
Anything that is themed Harry Potter must have a legal contract with Warner Bros to ensure that Harry Potter intellectual property is managed correctly, and all above board. They went all themselves, without contacting Warner Bros in advance.
[The pop-up is] clearly a knock-off from Diagon Alley, and they were making money out of it.
Reportedly, the pub has told staff the deconstruction has been “paused” due to a “wrestling match” with Warner, and pub ownership has not issued public comment on the matter at this time.
The Imperial Rooftop remains closed while removal works are in place, and is expected to re-open for normal, non-Potter operation later this week.
Three months on a fairly egregious breach of IP before being shut down? That’s a solid run.