Harry Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping, Into the Future
So why did Warner Brothers chose to push back the release date of the newest Harry Potter movie? If you’ve been reading the regular news then you’ve probably heard something along the lines of this press release from Cynopsis Kids:
"Warner Bros. ‘ announced late yesterday that it has moved back the release date of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince , the movie based on J.K. Rowling’s sixth HP book, to now open day-and-date domestically and in major international markets on July 17, 2009, versus the original November 21, 2008 date. Alan Horn, President and COO/Warner Bros., explained there are two reasons for the shift, 1) summer is ‘an ideal window’ for a big family releases (where two HP movies previously debuted), and 2) the writers’ strike earlier this year ‘impacted the readiness of scripts for other films,’ and changed the competitive movie release landscape, thus affording the studio new opportunities for 2009. The studio underlined that the production schedule for Half-Blood Prince and other forthcoming HP movies remain in tact and are not affected by this move. Production begins on the two-part movie adaptation of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in February 2009."
Huh. Seems a little odd that they’d only mention this now. There hasn’t been any talk of delays on the actual filming after all. Some people are citing the fact that this delay may be due to Warner Brothers’ particular success in the box office this year. As the L.A. Times put it:
Warner currently is riding high with "The Dark Knight," the Batman film that also stars Bale. The grim super-hero movie has taken in $452 million in the U.S. since its July 18 release, making it the second-highest grossing film ever.
To some degree, that success motivated Warner to shift "Half-Blood Prince," Horn said. The film will now hit theaters the same midsummer weekend that "Dark Knight" was released this year. Horn said the young, core Potter audience would be out of school and give the film a longer theatrical life. It will now open opposite Universal’s special-effects comedy "Land of the Lost," which stars Will Ferrell. But Horn said there was nothing next year compared to this summer’s especially dense slate of big-budget releases.
Getting closer, but that still doesn’t satisfy me. Then the L.A. Times blog Hero Complex posted an interesting theory from fan Richard Lohrey:
"Horn’s move makes no sense. Because The Dark Knight is so successful, he’s going to space out the next Harry Potter movie because it’s a guaranteed success? He’s worried that he’ll have a strong fiscal 2008 but fall short in 2009. Maybe a smart move for WB’s stockholders but without loyal audiences, Warner Brothers wouldn’t have anything to give their stockholders."
Moving a release date that far into the future… it’s a major executive decision. And the idea that the writer’s strike has had a hand in this decision makes sense as long as you remember that it would apply to future Warner Brothers’ productions. Productions that would otherwise appear in 2009. Some commenters on various sites have other theories, like the fact that Radcliff’s appearance in Equus on Broadway during the release of the film could have the press drawing a correlation between a naked Radcliff and his on-screen persona.
Mind you, this is just theorizing. Yet I did love that Warner Brothers (a company that owns Entertainment Weekly, mind you) didn’t see fit to inform their own publication of this choice in time for them to change their current cover. So now poor EW is stuck with this out-of-date image:
Good one, WB.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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