Accounting For Harry Potter

[imdb Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince]So, by now I’m sure you’ve heard that the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is moving from Nov. 21 to July 17, 2009. Having a released date bumped several months is usually not seen as a good thing. There could be issues with the filming or post-production causing it to get off schedule, the studio could be displeased with some part of the film and demand reshoots or replace part of the cast or crew, or maybe the movie could be poor enough that the studio wants a date with less competition. Even though most people are skeptical of the quality of the end product, it’s not always a bad sign- Titanic was bumped six months and didn’t seem to suffer. The New York Times has a good article on the subject of release dates.

The official reason for moving Harry Potter is that a July release would allow the studio to promote it as the big bang to start off the summer and get more kids into the theater and the writer’s strike changing the competition in 2009. It seems reasonable enough, but you think they would have thought of that sooner, before the media started ramping up the hype machine.

There have been a few theories on the real reason for the change. One is that the studio didn’t want competition from Twilight. However, Twilight’s release date is December 12th, three weeks after Harry’s original date. Pretty questionable seeing as how Harry would have made the vast bulk of it’s money by then. The more ridiculous theory is put forth by Roger Friedman of Fox News. He thinks that since the November 21 date coincides with Harry star Daniel Radcliffe’s Broadway performance of Equus (wherein he is naked and has sex), Warner Brothers wouldn’t want that image to be associated with Harry Potter. That might sound wise, but Radcliffe’s initial performance of Equus was around the release of Order of the Phoenix and obviously didn’t have much of an impact.

The most logical reason was given in this article by Sean Smith of Entertainment Weekly. An anonymous rival studio executive claims the change is due to the success of The Dark Knight. Since Knight performed so well at the box office, Warner Bros pushed Harry Potter back to spread out the profits. Potter is a known quantity and will rake in huge dollars. With Knight pulling in so much, releasing Potter this year would create a spike in revenue that might not be matched next year. It never looks good to investors when a company’s profits fall versus the prior year. Moving Potter to 2009 should help the studio look financially healthy and give it a chance to match or exceed 2008′s revenue.

It’s going to upset fans, but it’s decent business sense.

3 comments to Accounting For Harry Potter

  • I really don’t see why they should do that. I guess the money is there, but it would be great for waner bro’s to go head to head with Batman and see what happens. They’ve already made so much cash…


  • Furious

    They’re just hedging their bets. They know HP will make X dollars, it doesn’t matter when it’s released. Who knows how anything else will perform next year. But I can sympathize with fans who probably took it like a kick to the crotch.

  • yeah although I’m not exactly a Harry Potter guy it would surely be a huge blow to have, say, the new Bond film pushed back 8 months.


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