15 August 2008

The Dark Knight Makes Harry Potter Disappear



By now, word that Harry Potter 6 has moved from this November to next July is old news (its been like 18 hours after all). But why? and why now? WB says the move is to fill in a hole in next summers line up resulting from last years Writers Strike. Just last week I had the stretch to find 7 films to look forward to next summer, and really, only 5 fell into the summer season. July was completely void. The requisite summer Pixar film Up, was listed and Wolverine filled the superhero quota. Star Trek and Transformers 2 were the only other strong films listed and there was GI Joe (WB also has T4 opening, but I am personally not too pumped for it).

So, the move kind of makes sense. Then again, money now is at least as good as money later, right? This holiday season really only has Bond 22 and that weird teen vampire movie Twilight. Potter would be assured a hefty take.

So, either Potter 6 needs massive retooling - which I don't think is the case, or there is an even lamer reason for the change. Two weeks ago, the first real trailer for Harry Potter 6 was released. So, obviously the plan was still in place to release Potter 6 in November, as of 2 weeks ago. So, what changed? Batman.

You see, both Potter and Batman franchises are owned by Warner Brothers. Before The Dark Knight opened, WB probably expected to earn around $550 to $600 between the two movies. They will almost do those numbers with Batman alone, and with its huge success, stockholders will be happy. Padding the yearly revenues with another $300 million is a diminishing return as the company is already riding high on good PR. Sure, Batman was already tearing up the charts. as of HP6's trailer debut (it had hit $340 million as of the trailers release) but the gears in the heads of the WB execs had already begun to turn.

Two pretty good years will make stockholders happier than a year of plenty followed by a year of lean. On the other hand, next year looked quite lean with only T4 in the line-up. That is why WB was pushing so hard for a teen Justice League movie by the director of Happy Feet in spite of endless rumors of terrible scripts and preproduction problems. Justice League of any quality was their best bet for a Summer '09 blockbuster. Again, the success of Batman made them rethink the idea of a steaming pile of crap featuring Batman (albeit a different flavor of Batman played by a different and "hipper" actor). Unfortunately, at this late hour, nothing else was far enough along to be ready by next summer.

The Dark Knight has saved their precious balance sheet and the only ones that would suffer were the fans. Presto. Harry Potter disappeared from the schedule just like that.

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