‘Harry Potter’ shocker: ‘Half-Blood’ pushed to 2009

Aug. 14, 2008 | 9:35 p.m.


Talk about a disappearing act: Harry Potter just vanished from the 2008 movie schedule.

Warner Bros. shocked fans around the globe on Thursday when it announced that “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth installment in the massively successful film franchise about a young wizard and his friends, will not hit theaters in November as planned. The film will instead be delayed eight months and arrive on July 17, 2009, according to Alan Horn, Warner Bros. president and chief operating officer.

The move was made in the wake of the writers’ strike and to exploit the potent summer film market in the same fashion as the last “Potter” film, which grossed $292 million in U.S. theaters after its July 11 release last year, Horn said.

"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," Horn stated in the release.

That may be, but any scheduling change for a blockbuster release stirs intense scrutiny in Hollywood, and across the industry Thursday there was speculation that the move reflected some significant problem with the London-based production or with some other part of Warner’s release schedule.

The major Warner’s film already scheduled for next summer is “Terminator Salvation,” a darker reboot of the killer-robot franchise, which stars Christian Bale. That movie is now shooting in New Mexico.

Warner is riding high right now with one of the great modern success stories in Hollywood, “The Dark Knight,” the Batman film that stars Bale as well as the late Heath Ledger. The grim super-hero movie has now gone north of $450 million in the U.S. since its release July 18. The film is now second only to “Titantic” as the top-grossing film in history.

That success alone may have emboldened Warner to shift “Half-Blood Prince,” its next world-class heavyweight release, to next year. “Half-Blood Prince” will in fact be released in the same weekend that “Dark Knight’s” release fell on this year. Horn told the Associated Press that the rescheduling should not be parsed for signs of trouble.

“The picture is completely, absolutely, 100% on schedule, on time. There were no delays,” Horn said. “I’ve seen the movie. It is fabulous. We would have been perfectly able to have it out in November.”

Perhaps, but it’s quite a jolt to fans of the “Potter” films and books, who are among the most intense devotees in contemporary pop culture. There will be a two-year gap now between the film adaptations of books five and six in J.K. Rowling’s bookshelf of magical tales. But it will shorten fans’ wait between “Half-Blood Prince” and the final two installments, which are being shot simultaneously next year.

The seventh and final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” will be split into two films, which apparently remain scheduled for November 2010 and summer 2011.

According to Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group: “The release date change does not alter the production schedule for this or future Harry Potter films.  Post-production on ‘Half-Blood Prince’ was completed on time, and the studio’s release plans for the two-part ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ will not be affected by this change.  We know Harry Potter fans are eagerly anticipating seeing the final chapters unfold onscreen."

Here’s the press release from Warners:

BURBANK, CA, August 14, 2008 – Warner Bros. Pictures today announced that it has moved back the release date of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” to Summer 2009.  The sixth installment of the blockbuster Harry Potter franchise will now open day-and-date domestically and in the major international markets on July 17, 2009.  The announcement was made by Alan Horn, President and Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros.

In making the announcement, Mr. Horn stated, “Our reasons for shifting ‘Half-Blood Prince’ to summer are twofold: 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, which is the second-highest grossing film in the franchise, behind only the first installment.  Additionally, like 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.”

Jeff Robinov, President of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group, confirmed, “The release date change does not alter the production schedule for this or future Harry Potter films.  Post-production on ‘Half-Blood Prince’ was completed on time, and the studio’s release plans for the two-part ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ will not be affected by this change.  We know Harry Potter fans are eagerly anticipating seeing the final chapters unfold onscreen.  In fact, the good news for them is that the gap will now be shortened between ‘Half-Blood Prince’ and the first part of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.’”

Commenting on the release date change for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” David Heyman, the producer of all the Harry Potter films, offered, “When Jeff Robinov explained the rationale behind moving the release date of ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ to July 2009, it was immediately apparent that this offered us the potential to reach the widest possible audience.  I am extremely proud of this latest film and of the work of David Yates and our incomparable cast; I believe we have developed and pushed the series further still.  We are all looking forward to sharing it with Harry Potter fans around the world, even if we have to wait just a bit longer.”

David Yates, the director of both “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and who will also helm “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,’ added, “It has been a joy to work on ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.’  Dan, Rupert and Emma and all our returning young cast continue to blossom, and our new cast members bring fresh color and life to Hogwarts.  Even as we put the finishing touches on this latest film, we are already beginning preparations on the final two films—we start filming in February—and I am excited to bring this remarkable series to the exciting and moving conclusion its loyal fans deserve.”

In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was.  Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching.  Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts.  Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a Heyday Films production, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”  David Yates, who directed last year’s summer blockbuster “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” returns to direct “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”  David Heyman and David Barron are the producers, with Lionel Wigram serving as executive producer.  Steve Kloves wrote the screenplay, based on the book by J.K. Rowling.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are reprising their roles as young wizards Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.  The film also stars Jim Broadbent, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis and Julie Walters.  The cast also features David Bradley, Jessie Cave, Frank Dillane, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Helen McCrory, Natalia Tena, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, and Bonnie Wright.

Photo from "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" courtesy of Warner Bros.

More in: Uncategorized, Harry Potter


13 Responses to ‘Harry Potter’ shocker: ‘Half-Blood’ pushed to 2009

  1. Tim1865 says:

    BALONEY!!! You don't move the studio's biggest motion picture of the year forward six months on a whim. You mean no one thought about moving it to summer the first time around? Nonsense.

  2. Jenna says:

    My boyfriend's going to FREAK! lolol

  3. Bad Omen says:

    Yeah…this is like the company CEO "resigned for personal reasons." Nobody believes a blockbuster movie getting pushed back is for marketing reasons. There is obviously something wrong and this one did not live up to the standards of the prior ones. They've been spaced out at the maximum length possible to retain interest, and now that there are no more books, this is a huge risk that a lot of fans will have moved on to other interests and not see the rest of the films. Sell Warner Bros stock now!!

  4. Figgins says:

    Who proofread this article? There are more misspellings than Tori sightings!

  5. Nicole says:

    I bet they didn't want any interference with the "Twilight" release…

  6. paula says:

    What a big disappointment. I was SO looking forward to November. To wait practically ANOTHER YEAR will hurt.

  7. Tracy says:

    This is totally outrageous – do the bosses of Warner Bros really understand what this means to Harry Potter fans??!!! – it's like promising you a present and then saying you can't have it for another year. …..and to add insult to injury they try and palm us off with "well the good news is that it means a shorter gap between the last installment" – I don't care about that, I was soooooo looking forward to seeing HBP this year!!!!!
    WB bosses – you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  8. Becca says:

    This is such a disappointment! They were probably just scared that HP would be affected by Twilight… EVEN THOUGH IT COMES OUT TWO WEEKS BEFORE! This is so lame, why push it back eight months? I'm sure the writer's strike is just a whole bunch of crock. Besides, nobody should be paying any respect to the writer that is Yates.. And he got off easily, having his movie be unaffected even though his work is absolutely horrible! Stupid WB :(

  9. Sunstahr says:

    I am thrilled that Harry Potter has been moved to the Summer of 2009! That will give my family all a chance to gather together when everyone is home from school….so we can see it together! Hooray!!!! I will wait as long as it takes…no one will lose interest.

  10. Betsy says:

    Ok let me get this straight… the WB posts the international release dates a little over a week ago and then just days later decides to push it all back by 8 months! Like they didn't realize the summer didn't have anything major coming out when they made the first announcement? Are they intentionally trying to anger the fandom that has made this franchise such a success?! And, as if to make us less upset, they say the movie WAS ready for the November release but now it'll be less time between HBP and DH part 1. That only ticks us off more! As for seeing the movie with my family it's a no brainer… we know when it's going to be released MONTHS in advance so we plan for a date around then and put it on our calendar! There you go, no worries about conflicting schedules! I seriously hope the WB takes these extra months to make the movie 100% perfect.

  11. Jessica says:

    WB is not getting my money now.

  12. bookfan says:


  13. For serious? Mad Fan says:

    I don't want to seem rude.. but what a bunch of bull WB is! Harry Potter is set to come out in November, it always has and always should. I am not a die hard fan, but I am a good one, and was looking pretty forward to two months from now when the movie was supposed to show. Not maybe 8 months from now! I think WB should stoping thinking about maxing the amount of money that they can milk out of Potter (because that is exactly what they are doing) and let fans and people all around the world have their movies when they are supposed to get them.
    I don't even have a word for how upset I am. Ugh. July? Seriously? Even though I will still go see it, that actually makes me loose some of my interest. And that is hard when it comes to me and Harry Potter

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