Warner Bros. Pictures announced it has moved back the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from November 21, 2008 to July 17, 2009.
Alan Horn, President and Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros. 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, 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.”
UPDATE: IMAX still plans to release the IMAX version of Harry Potter 6 despite the release date change. Plans are also still underway for segments of HP6 to be converted into 3D. CNNMoney.com reports:
Richard Gelfond, co-chief executive of Imax, said that even though the company just found out about the change Thursday, it’s already initiated some conversations about a replacement film, and he’s confident it will find a good project. While it was only planning a two-week release of the DreamWorks Animation SKG (DWA) film “Madagascar 2,” opening November 7, it would like to have another film as well to play a little later in the holiday season.
Gelfond said that the “Harry Potter” change won’t effect the Imax release of ” Transformers 2,” which opens June 26. “We’ll play both films,” he said.