I’m a BIG Harry Potter fan. I own and have read all the books, some even twice. I saw each movie on the big screen and own each DVD in widescreen. I’ve watched each movie dozens of times at home and still am not tired of watching them. I’m in awe of the wizarding world. I admit it–I’m a Harry Potter-phile. So you can imagine my reaction when Warner Brothers announced that they were moving the release date of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from November 2008 to July 2009. I was beside myself.
The headline should read, “The Studio Who Lies” Warner Brothers did the two-step trying to explain their reasoning for the change. “Our reasons for shifting ‘Half-Blood Prince’ to summer are twofold,” Warner Bros. President and Chief Operating Officer Alan Horn said in a statement. “We know the summer season is an ideal window for a family tent-pole release, as proven by the success of our last Harry Potter film [released July 11, 2007], which is the second-highest-grossing film in the franchise, behind only the first installment.” Horn added that “like every other studio,” Warner Bros. was still “feeling the repercussions of the writers’ strike,” which had affected scripts for other films, and changed “the competitive landscape for 2009.” Because of this, the studio felt next summer was a “new window of opportunity” for the franchise. The film’s producer, David Heyman, concurred, saying that this would allow them to “reach the widest possible audience.”
Translation: The Dark Knight has made so much money this year that we do not need a Harry Potter film in the fall. With no new great release scheduled for the summer of 2009, Harry Potter will generate us enough cash to carry us through the rest of the 2009. We want you, the public, to think we are doing this for you but really it’s all about the cash.
The average Harry Potter fan’s reaction to the release date change.
And it’s all about the cash. Warner Brothers is not concerned about upsetting the loyal Harry Potter fan base because the fan base is still going to remain loyal to Harry Potter. Even though comments on news articles and blogs reflect a very nasty backlash as well as calls for boycotting the movie, Warner Brothers was smart enough to push the release date back far enough that people will soon forget how angry they are about the release date change. And the closer we get to July 2009, the more excited Harry Potter fans are going to get. Especially the younger crowd who are quick to call for a boycott and then quick to forget they wanted to start one.
So Warner Brothers wins. But what about the fans? Although disappointed, we win too. We’ll still get to see the movie in July AND it makes the wait for the next installment shorter. I know I’ll be first in line at the theaters when the movie opens in July. And if there’s a boycott? Who cares? It’ll make it easier for me to get a ticket and a center seat in the theater. I can’t help myself. I’m a Harry Potter-phile.