Warner Bros. Pictures today announced that it has moved back the release date of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from November 21, 2008 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 filmschanging 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 filmswe start filming in Februaryand 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.
Universal Pictures’ Land of the Lost is also scheduled for a July 17, 2009 release date. It is unclear if the studio will keep the date now that it’s facing the juggernaut franchise.
To take advantage of the move by “Harry Potter,” Walt Disney Pictures has moved up its animated adventure Bolt five days to November 21.
In other release news, Columbia Pictures has moved the Will Smith drama Seven Pounds back one week to December 19, Fox Atomic has put romantic comedy I Love You Beth Cooper on the crowded weekend of March 27, 2009, and Zac Efron’s 17 Again has been moved back two months to April 17, 2009.