Harry Potter Delay Evokes Angry Outbursts Amongst Fans
by Alex Billington
August 15, 2008
This month's most shocking and surprising news arrived just yesterday: Warner Brothers announced that they were pushing back the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from November 21st, 2008 to July 17th, 2009, a full 8 months later. Release date changes are always expected in Hollywood, especially when films encounter production troubles or other snags, but the reaction to this date change has been tremendous, and not in a good way. In fact, the reaction has been incredibly negative, with fans lashing out in anger and calling for boycotts and petitions. Even I was taken aback by the news, but I never expected the fans to be so angry at a change that in theory was supposed to be for the betterment of the movie. Could a fan backlash this negative actually cause Warner Brothers to rescind the date change?
I know I was frustrated when I realized I wouldn't be able to look forward to another Harry Potter this year. However, there is a difference between being temporarily upset that you will have to wait 8 more months and being furious and angry at Warner Brothers, who has generally treated Harry Potter fans very well over the years. If they mess with something this precious to millions of fans and it causes such a negative reaction, it's not something they can ignore. Fans are essential to the success of a movie as long as they're happy and excited - The Dark Knight proved that. Comments on our article range from peaceful protests like (#13): "This is a huge disappointment for WB and for Harry Potter." To loquacious outbursts like this one (#17): "All its doing is pissing off its fan base. That includes me, so fuck off Warner Bros, you ruined my day." With 48 comments written so far, nearly none of them have anything positive to say.
There are two important things to note. First, that Warner Brothers should have made this announcement much earlier instead of within 3 months of the initial release (and right after debuting a fantastic teaser trailer). And second, that one trend I'm noticing amongst moviegoers is that they're losing hope for the film, claiming that it will be just as bad as Order of the Phoenix (which actually still ended up performing quite well). As I said earlier, this kind of decision is something that is actually hurting Warner Brothers, not helping them. We don't even see people getting this angry at Lionsgate for butchering Punisher: War Zone (see this article). I'm honestly worried that Warner Brothers has broken their trust with countless fans and has undoubtedly caused their box office earnings to probably change for the worst.
I'm very curious to see if Warner Brothers will be smart enough to watch this reaction and potentially change the date back. Unfortunately no one knows the real details behind why it was moved. If they need more time to edit and finish visual effects (which seems to be the case for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and its one year delay), then it wouldn't help to force the film back to its earlier date. No one wants a rushed film with rushed visual effects and editing. However, if the decision was made based on marketing strategy or their overflow of films, it would certainly be in their best interest to put Harry Potter back where he belongs - on the big screen at Thanksgiving. This time, the fans do truly control the success of the movie. Is this negative fan reaction powerful enough to potentially cause Warner Brothers to move Half-Blood Prince back to its original November date?
Note: The planned split release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows features both a November and May date. The first part will hit theaters on November 19th, 2010 and the second part will tentatively hit theaters in May, 2011. This change, if it remains, leaves less waiting time between Half-Blood Prince and Part I of Deathly Hallows, which might cause the production schedule to shift.