Still-angry ‘Harry Potter’ fans fume to the Wall Street Journal

Sept. 08, 2008 | 11:11 p.m.

Voldehorn And they make Page One.

Warner Bros. president Alan Horn may as well be Voldemort himself:

Jean Fink, a 51-year-old Los Angeles artist who also works as an administrative assistant, was so distraught after a night of fitful sleep that she dashed off a scathing message to the man who’d betrayed her. “I can’t breath amymore [sic] because you just ripped out my heart,” she wrote in an Aug. 15 email.

Her tormentor: Alan Horn, president of TIme Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. On Aug. 14, Mr. Horn announced the unusual decision to delay releasing the newest installment of the Harry Potter film series, initially set for release in November, for another eight months. “What he was doing was screwing up the world,” fumes Ms. Fink. “I wasn’t … like I was going to go kill the guy, but I was angry. And I’m not done yet.”

To a world of wand-wielding Harry Potter loyalists, the studio executive had crossed to the dark side. Within hours of Warner Bros.’s decision to postpone the release of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” to next July, hate mail began to pour into the studio. An online petition expressing fans’ disgust with the decision garnered more than 45,000 signatures. The studio says it even received death threats. “I hope you choke on your own saliva,” snarled one fan in an e-mail.

While executives’ private e-mail addresses circulated via the Web, angry homemade videos were being uploaded onto YouTube. In one, Greg and Penny Gershman overlaid their own subtitles to a German film about the final days of Adolf Hitler. “How am I supposed to get my Potter fix now!” Hitler violently shouts, according to the new subtitles, when told of the delay by one of his officials. He adds: “We are going to make Warner Brothers suffer.”

The withering attacks over a family-friendly franchise like Potter show how the nature of fan uprisings has grown increasingly hostile. Thanks to the Web, angry fans can arm themselves with the latest information and speedily deliver profane brain dumps straight into executive email boxes.

WSJ also provides some of the ticked-off emails fans sent to the studio. Can you blame them though? Ten months is a long time to wait, and fans will probably quickly blast through J.K. Rowling’s next, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” a collection of five fairy tales set in the world of “Harry Potter,” due out Dec. 4.

What can the team behind the push-back of the accompanying “Half-Blood Prince” video game expect?

— Denise Martin

Photo credit: Warner Bros. / Getty Images


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