NEWS FLASH: 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' Bumped to Summer 2009

Harrypotter_l Entertainment Weekly’s early look at the new Harry Potter movie just a got a whole lot earlier. In a last-minute move, Warner Bros. has just announced that the studio is pulling Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from its fall lineup and rescheduled it for July 17, 2009. In an irony sure to set blogger hearts beating giddily, the film graces the cover of EW’s new fall preview issue, which hits stands today. EW and Warner Bros. share a parent company, but they clearly do not share, you know, important friggin’ information.

A Warners publicist stressed that word about the rescheduling had only just come down today — which is most likely true, given that the Half-Blood teaser trailer is already in circulation. As of tomorrow, it will run with the new animated Star Wars movie, almost certainly still trumpeting a fall release date. The Potter movie is also on the cover of the fall preview issue of the British film magazine Empire.

As for why the film was pushed out of fall, the studio explained in a statement that summertime is the “ideal window for a family tent pole release.” But this, presumably, is not something the executives just figured out this morning. The Warners release continued, somewhat more convincingly: “[L]ike every other studio, we are still feeling the repercussions of the writers’ strike, which impacted the readiness of scripts for other films—changing the competitive landscape for 2009 and offering new windows of opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of.  We agreed the best strategy was to move Half-Blood Prince to July, where it perfectly fills the gap for a major tent pole release for mid-summer.” Prior to the movie, Warners’ had a blockbuster, Terminator Salvation with Christian Bale, set for Memorial Day, but not much else.

Some outside the studio are already pointing out that moving Half-Blood will also stop next year’s profits from looking seriously underwhelming after the phenomenal success of The Dark Knight. “They don’t need the money this year anymore,” says a rival studio exec. “When a movie overperforms the way Dark Knight has, you really don’t need Harry Potter in the fall.” Asked about the seriousness of moving a Potter movie so late in the game, the exec adds, “Turning a battleship that big isn’t easy. You’re not talking just about the movie, but all the merchandising, the toys and stuff. It’s huge. And it has a domino effect across the rest of the summer slate.” The date change will affect other studio’s slates as well. July 17 is currently home to Will Ferrell’s Land of the Lost, but Universal may quickly move to safer ground.

Like every studio that ever pushed a movie back in a hurry, Warners’ press statement stressed how proud everyone is of the movie and tried to preempt any suggestion that something might be amiss, creatively or otherwise. And in fairness, the Potter movies have all been quite strong ever since Chris Columbus stopped directing them. Half-Blood was directed by David Yates, who also helmed last summer’s Order of the Phoenix, the biggest global hit the franchise has had since the first film debuted in 2001.

One clear winner here — apart from EW readers now in possession of a “Dewey Beats Truman” collectible — is Disney’s animated movie, Bolt, which will now have the family audience all to itself come Thanksgiving. Bolt is about a puppy who plays a superdog on TV and believes he has real superpowers. John Travolta voices the pooch and Miley Cyrus, his owner Penny. Could it be that Harry Potter is just scared of dogs? — written by Jeff Giles

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  • Grottodiego

    OK HARRY Potter fans you want a fix, you got it check out elderscrossing.com, http://www.gatekeeperscurse.com, or my blog grottodiego.wordpress.com The story continues
    Maybe it will help you wait
    ON THE OTHER HAND
    AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WarnerBros SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’M DONE WITH ANYTHING THEY PUT OUT. I’M FINISH WITH THEM. You guys can wait for Half-Blood Prince to come out next summer. I’m not waiting for anything they have anymore. THWT

  • Joyce

    I think they will lose more money waiting then if they were to let it come out in November. I know right now I am so pissed that I will wait until it comes out on DVD

  • Kenneth

    What about those that were planning to attend the November Premiere Screening (and already bought airline tickets to fly to London), What about every one who saw the “November” at the end of the trailer after Mummy (and got really excited), what about all the world release date that WB had just sent out a week or two ago, what about the Half Blood Prince Video game being released in November (are they going to move that back too, even while the new trailer for the game that was released yesterday said “November”), what about all us loyal Harry Potter fans who have been anxiously counting down the days until November 21st (and now we have to wait an extra 8 months)! Why this late WB, why not have made the decision earlier this year? We know it’s all for the money but I mean seriously how much more would you make from a Summer Release. WHY WB, WHY?!

  • Jacob

    WB sucks

  • Jen

    Yeah i’m done with WB too! that’s messed up on so many levels it’s not even funny! They should be refunding people who have planned according to what they stated on the damn trailer!!!!!!!!

  • Paulo

    WB EXECS SHOULD GO TO HELL!!!!!!!!!

  • Ali

    I am just completely speechless right now.

  • Michelle Welch

    Yes, I hyperventilated and let out a string of curse words when I read on HPANA, earlier this evening, that the Harry Potter movie I have been longing for since the book’s release – Half-Blood Prince is my favorite – will not be out until July 2009. I was furious. Why? Well, for one thing, I was going to be in London at the time of the premiere due to a study abroad program through my university. But forgetting about the chance – the small, but entirely possible chance – that I could get the three Rs – Rickman, Rowling, and Radcliffe – to autograph my Half-Blood Prince book from the red carpet, there is also the other reason for my unhappiness: I just plain want to see this movie. I don’t want to wait eleven MORE months to see a movie that, by all accounts, could be released tomorrow.
    David Yates recently commented that the film was due to begin test screenings soon because it was pretty much done except for some editing. It frustrates me that WB is more concerned with profits.

  • Kimberly

    Don’t go see any of their movies anymore. I doubt anything we do will change their minds, but all I know is that I’m not going to see anything that WB had anything to do with. If I hear that anyone from WB so much as sneezed in the general direction of a film, I won’t be going to see it. I’m tired off being jerked around and I’m sure everyone else is too.

  • Henrique

    I hate u WB, just wanna get money, finally the interest for money came down to HP in a ridiculus way affecting fans, i think right now 100% of the fans are mad and wont watch WB movies this year!lol lucky u WB the trailers are wrong in the theathers, and everyone is against your selfish way to earn money.GOOD JOB!THIS WILL BE THE BEST HARRY POTTER X-MAS YET!!!

  • Disappointed HP Fan

    I think this was a really bad move on Warner Bros. part. The last book came out a year ago, the franchise will lose momentum if there is too much time between movies.
    I know everyone involved in these movies needs to earn a living. However, they have made SO much money on the HP franchise, I really don’t think delaying the movie 8 months so they can make MORE money is a good move.
    They’ve released trailers. Changing the release date this close, with the admission that it is to make even more money, is just a slap in the face to Potter fans. Potter fans that have already spent money on movies and merchandise.

  • Kingsley

    As a first point, WB sucks. I can’t believe they would make such a silly decision, and so suddenly!
    I have a feeling that this has something to do with the fact that the Twilight film would be coming out just 2 weeks after Half-Blood Prince if they kept the November date. Twilight is HUGELY popular, and WB wants to rake in as much cash as they can without being cut short by some vampire romance. Both Harry Potter and Twilight will make ALOT of money no matter what, so I am really pissed at the people who made this decision.
    Some part of the movie is bound to be leaked, now that we’re waiting 8 months longer.
    Terrible choice *sigh*

  • kcl73

    i am shocked and outraged. Way to go WB. You keep the fans on the hook with the trailer release, then pull the rug out from under them. Judging by the 1,000’s of comments on mugglenet.com you may end up losing more money than making in 09. You are totally dropping the ball. And may have a boycott on all films. Not that u care.

  • amy

    NOOOOOOOO!
    freakin A!!!! i was so looking forward to this movie! the execs should have removed their head ifrm their a$$e$ before releasing all the preview stuff. Dang it!

  • Michelle

    I just posted about my own personal unhappiness over the WB announcement, but something that I find almost more frustrating is reading others’ comments on this blog, and also elsewhere on the internet. Where does this attitude that everyone is going to just reject seeing Half-Blood Prince in theaters and simply watch it on DVD a further five to seven months later come from? What does that mean? This is a movie everyone is dying to see, so you’re going to show your frustration by waiting even longer? Buying the DVD still constitutes funding Warner Bros. I think Warner Bros. just made a very POOR decision and they’re really created an army of fans full of loathing for the studio now, but people need to get real; you’re going to go see Half-Blood Prince no matter when it comes out, because when it comes down to it, Warner Bros. may be the studio that funds the film and organizes its marketing and all, but the reason to see the film is due to the cast and crew and the story we love!

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