Call it "Harry Potter and the Revolt of the Muggles."A day after Warner Bros. announced that it would be pulling the sixth "Potter" film off of its Novemeber release schedule and instead releasing it next July to take advantage of skimpy competition in the summer, fans of the massively popular franchise were lighting up the Internet with their rage. Thousands of fans signed online petitions, others organized boycotts and assorted protests, and a vast number expressed their reaction with tears or clenched fists.At Petitionspot.com, more than 12,000 fans had signed a demand that "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," in post-production in London, be returned to the long-promoted November date. In comments posted, it was clear that Warner Bros. Chairman Alan Horn had, for a day at least, replaced Voldemort as the main villian in the hearts of "Potter" fans, who often call themselves Muggles, which means a nonmagical mortal in the Potter parlance.Fans such as 25-year-old Brooklyn resident Patrick Allen promised marches on the corporate offices of Warner. "They are doing this for no other reason than to make more money," he wrote in an e-mail to The Times. "This is ridiculous, and I assure you that the millions of Harry Potter fans who have been looking forward to this release will not stand for it. We don’t want to be pacified. We want the movie, as promised, this November."The "Potter" films, based on the books of J.K. Rowling, have grossed more than $1.4 billion in the U.S. alone. As of press time, Rowling had not commented publicly on the postponement. Warner Bros. this summer released "The Dark Knight," now the second-highest grossing film ever, and "Half-Blood Prince" will now be released in that same mid-July slot next year.
That said, Warner Bros. might be playing with fire here by putting money ahead of its faithful consumers. As I said, there are a lot of angry people today. Here some e-mails I’ve gotten:
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. Horn and Warner Brothers should focus on making better films instead of manipulating the numbers and manipulating their audiences/customers in the process. If I knew there was a chance that my seeing the latest Batman movie would delay the next Harry Potter film, I would have waited for Batman to come out on DVD or skipped it all together. Knowing this kind of blatent disregard for the movie goer is going to be the standard business practice for Warner Brothers will give me no option but to boycott future Warner Brother films.
Sincerely, Richard Lohrey
This one from Francois Tuvul:
And this from Allison Cardinal:
And one Joanne Munie:
Thanks for printing that article in the LA Times. It gave me a huge laugh
to hear what WB President Alan Horn had to say, wish I could believe a word
of anything that fell out of his mouth, but I don’t.
It is much appreciated that the press is getting this story out — I for one
am a very unhappy Potter fan today. I will go see the movie, but the luster
has worn off for me now. This was my favorite book and now I’m so
disappointed I can hardly stand it.
Tony Tribby in Virgina had an interesting take:
Next time you are speaking to a movie studio rep who is whining about money they lose to people downloading their films off the internet, you might want to point to actions like this as one of the reasons why.
Yes, they are a business, but they also must be aware that a large share of the revenue they reap from vehicles like the Harry Potter franchise is based on the intense loyalty of the fans–who can also choose to walk away when they are so blatantly reminded that, to the studio, all they are is a source of revenue. This move is going to chill the excitement of those fans, and I’d wager the resulting loss in repeat viewings is going to offset whatever revenue gains they expect to pick up by moving the film to next summer.
I also expect to see a petition soon where people will at the very least pledge to boycott the movie on opening weekend.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.