It’s not personal, just business

Aug 16, 2008

Posted by SueTLC
Uncategorized

So shortly after 4pm, Thursday, August 14, I get an email containing a link to a story on Marketwatch.com Now the fact that I get an email is nothing new because all of us at Leaky get literally hundreds of emails a day. I took a glance at the headline, paused for just a moment, skimmed it quickly, and immediately went to post. I typed up the post, still not fully believing what I was writing, but knowing all the while it was certainly true. I’ve had this experience before in “real life” news, but this one was a doozy by Potter standards. I went to hit post, then thought Oh I better call Melly first to see if she wanted to post (and she did and was doing so when I rang), but during the two minutes I was on the phone with her, I got at least ten more owls from various sites and readers, then 3 texts and at least 2 incoming calls all the same time, all asking the same one question: IS THIS REALLY TRUE? I hung up with Melissa, the post when up and then I waited. In the meantime I took one of those calls, from a former colleague who now works for a large online wire service and he chortled: “Rotten luck eh? We are all waiting to see how long till your website melts and your fandom explodes.”

heh.

and they did. both things.

Soon every website had the news up, there were scores of twitters and updated my status on facebook over my dubiousness over the thing that was causing such a flurry of reaction: WB postponed the release of “Half-Blood Prince” until July 17 of next year.

As I was reading the official press release from WB, I could not help be reminded in force of one of my favorite movies, “The Godfather.” You know the scene/lines that are repeated throughout the Trilogy that later find their way into our social conscious: It’s nothing personal, just business.

I kept hearing this over and over in my head as I read the statements, then later attempts by Mr. Horn, and really he did not deny it at all. It was in fact to use his words “new windows of opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of” that said it all. Nothing personal, just a business move. The folks at IMAX pretty much said the same thing too. So perhaps it may be a surprise that this Hufflepuff should be so cynical, but really when it comes down to it, in my personal opinion, I am fully and always always aware that WB is a corporation, and making money is their bottom line. WB is a US based company, and we have a system where generating money, and in this case literally billions of dollars, is not taken lightly. Sure its OK to be upset at first, but I believe that once the initial emotion of the moment passes, many will see that this move was all about WB taking advantage of the “Dark Knight” bonanza gift they have, and seriously trying to make huge amounts of money by moving it to a time frame when really, there are not too many other HUGE films out there like there are now (and yea I know Will Ferrell and Co at “Land of the Lost” are probably none to happy about this move since they as of now are still slated to open that same weekend) Regardless, I kept hearing Michael Corleone’s voice -its nothing personal , over and over as I watched the message boards, twitters, texts, etc all explode with this news…..(ok I admit, I ALSO HEARD MONEY MONEY MONEY from the dreadful “Mamma Mia” movie playing in my head too lol) I tried to express all of this to some extent that will be in our next PotterCast, but if they had just come out and said plainly, look this is a business decision, plain and simple, and not tried to spin it with the summer time/family stuff, I genuinely believe it would not have been met with such anger and resistance-sure people would naturally be upset, but I really did not care for that added attempt to try and deflect what I feel is the basis-a monetary influenced decision. Be upfront and people are more likely to respond to you more favorably has always been my belief.

Anyway, as the multitudes exploded with anger and disbelief and frustration at the news of the change of release date, and the opinion that WB is some sort of heartless Scrooge based type company, equal to Voldemort from some of the comments, seemed to be shared by many literally everywhere I went-in comments to newspapers, on scores of blogs, movie sites, etc. Others were more cynical saying they dont care about their fans and that WB would remain uneffected by this because they know they have the fans where they want them.

Sure we are a fandom, large and unafraid to express our opinions (remember the flap over the missing comma in a poster? or the wrong date on the Riddle gravestone?) Within an hour I must have received ten Facebook group invites all protesting, seeking to boycott or petition WB. While I applaud these efforts, I’m afraid the cynic in me seeks this having little to no effect. Yes this makes me sad, but I am also one of those people who will wait to see it

Now herein lies a point that is really foremost in my mind. The move puts the film back EIGHT MORE MONTHS. That is a long time to try and keep something-a film, trailers, stills, scripts, twists surprises etc- SECRET and build up suspense, anticipation what have you to go see the film when it opens on July 17, 2009. Ironically though, WB may not have had all the troops in place when preparing to drop this bomb on everyone, as Entertainment Weekly-owned by the way by TimeWarner-had already gone to press with their first set visit report, which contained many new goodies that ordinarily would have caused a frenzy of delighted reaction. I mean, THE UNBREAKABLE VOW-that moment, so intense, so anticipated by many (including me) Snape, Bellatrix and Narcissa there it was for all of us to see, and what was the reaction? I DONT CARE….

agggh. heartbreak again, only on a different level. There were also nuggets that Kloves had turned in his first draft of the screenplay for “Deathly Hallows Part One” and was at work on Part two, plus his comment that the break was at a place he didn’t anticipate-SAY WHAT?- and that normally would have given fans much to mull over. More curious to me was the fact that we saw a fair number of other unconfirmed yet new and almost surely from the film photos, and WB didnt even blink. They were everywhere. WON WON AND LAV LAV, Harry and Ginny. I know everyone is upset at the moment, but where are the shippers lol? Come on, I enjoy these conversations, lets bring it back on!

So now I find myself wondering too from my news editor point of view, given we have eight more months to go, how on earth is WB going to contain all the trailers, the promo shots, the clips, the music, the website, the usual round of their huge amount of marketing materials they make for these films, and hold on to them, to generate enough buzz again eight months from now. Thats always our challenge at the fansites, bringing everyone these (and yea WB likes to let us know that some of things need to come down) but now I wonder how do they realistically hope to contain all of this, when frankly so much of the Jeannie is already out of the bottle so to speak?

I believe fans will of course turn out in droves next July- I will, but will I feel as excited as I was just a few days ago? I mean, we are a fandom that owns multiple copies of the books, collect everything we can on the series, own the DVDs, soundtracks, video games, dolls, we make crafts of all sorts, sport every house robes, go to conventions, attend midnight release parties-all because we love this series so. Sure we do have much to look forward to as the new edition of Sorcerer’s Stone is coming out next month, then Beedle the Bard in December=NEW CANON EVERYONE, that’s always a bonus, but still will it honestly be enough to regenerate the level of excitement we had at this point? Perhaps they are counting on opening up the filming progress of Deathly Hallows- PRODUCTION DIARY WB PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE? or maybe they will issue the long hoped for extended DVDs -although frankly, its just business so I see that coming after the Deathly Hallows are released alas. Dunno what attempts to pacify us Mr Horn was referring to, but the next few months will prove to be interesting to me to see how WB is going to handle this. I do believe that once our fandom has a time to recover there will be a renewal of interest in the movie series, but I sure as heck would hate to be in the marketing department’s shoes right now.





13 Responses to It’s not personal, just business

Avatar Image says:

Yes…I agree, how the heck are they gonna keep us the same excitement for 8 MORE months….i really was expecting a thearacle trailer in like october but i guess i will have to wait. I agree with Sue …

“but I sure as heck would hate to be in the WB/Harry Potter marketing department’s shoes right now”

Yeah like she said I will obviosly still go and see the movie, I willnot be able to boycott it….

Avatar Image says:

Im 100% with You…

i remember the fisrt time i read about the date, i can´t believe it, it was like a dream, a bad dream, then i was angry, but now, now im just SO Disappointed of WB…

and yes! many new pics from the movie, new a cool pics, but u know it! I DON´T CARE!

GRR!!!

I wish some very angry fans dress up like deatheater and burn WB!!!

GOD! im angry again…

Avatar Image says:

Well said as always, Sue. Like you, I think it would have been easier to stomach if they had been honest that it IS about money, rather than trying to sound nice about it. Will the change make a large financial difference to WB in the long run? No. There are handfuls of people who will boycott the movie, but the vast majority of Harry fans will still go. But at the same time, at this time in the game, 3/4 of the way through the saga, the movie isn’t going to attract tons of new viewers. I wonder if it’s just as much related to the release of the first Deathly Hallows being forced to be postponed?

Avatar Image says:

Yeah – I am bummed, my family holiday starts with an HP movie, so do countless others. I know it’s a business, but it’s more then that too. Movies are about memories shared with those you love.

I posted this in your livejournal as well, but I hope that they make waiting worth it. I’d like to see them add a short movie at the start of this one, with one of the Tales of Beedle the Bard. That would be a great treat to a very disappointed fandom.

Doris

Avatar Image says:

I find the idea of this nonchalance toward all the new material very interesting, because normally the fandom would be going crazy over the amount of stuff we’re getting. Any casual viewer/reader would look at us and think we’re just being overdramatic at the delay news, but these feelings that Sue expressed so well are very true! I looked at the Unbreakable Vow picture yesterday and, aside from thinking that Narcissa looked a little ridiculous, I could really care less about the photo.

Anticipation truly is half the fun, and so when you take a film out of our reach for a huge span of time, the majority of us really have no excitement for it anymore. I doubt the protests (even though I do support them) will make a difference, because, like Sue said, this is a business-based decision, and it’s not likely that the desires of a fandom (no matter how large and resonant) will or even can affect the financial needs of a huge company like WB. Its people simply don’t market or release their films in the same manner as would the fans. It’s a real shame that we have to wait so long, because the release of a new HP film is an event that brings us fans together, not just a visual representation of our beloved books. I just don’t even feel excited about it anymore. Ask me when the film is drawing nearer, and I sincerely hope my attitude changes.

Avatar Image says:

Sue, this was a GREAT post! I am so happy to get your reaction to think, and I think you have a great attitude to it – it sucks, but there’s nothing we can do about it. When I saw the news, more than getting enraged I sort of just deflated… as a Lost fan I’m used to waiting nine months between seasons now, and this was just like, another thing I had to wait longer for. It’s not even like this will make the movies last longer (unless they push the DHs too but I doubt it), it’s just another eight months before HBP. Before seeing Harry/Ginny, before seeing the amaaazing young Tom Riddle in action, before Slughorn, before Snape… and just because of marketing! lol, maybe I’m angry after all! It’s just so… unfair, I guess? Like, they PROMISED, you know? We all want to believe that the WB cares about HP and it’s fans, and this is just like a slap in the face. But I mean, it’s not like I’ll like HP less or that I won’t go see the movie or anything! I do agree with you on the other point though, one of the first things I said when I found out the news was that I bet the movie will leak online months before it’s released and the WB will lose millions of dollars that way. And the revengeful part in me kind of hopes that this actually happens, which is terrible, but it’d be their own fault. I wouldn’t see it online though, I’m looking forward to this film way too much. It’s just such a shame, cause I know everything about it will get spoiled beforehand. It’ll also be so anticlimactic when it finally does premiere, because with no new book (well Beedle the Bard! But it’s not as mainstream, not about Harry) or anything, surely the general interest in Potter will dwindle. Sigh. Sorry, didn’t mean to monster post in your comments! :)

Ps, you know what song I heard? “It’s all about the money, it’s all about the dum-dum-dubidumdum”... :P

Avatar Image says:

Also, I think one of the main reasons why we suddenly don’t care about any of the new material is simply because while before it was OMG I can’t wait!!, now it’s like… great, but we HAVE to wait like ages for this. I can’t get excited about the pictures because I know that this excitement won’t hold 11 months. It’s sad, but I really think this is why.

Avatar Image says:

Thanks Sue! You put into words everything I have been feeling. I will just not get excited about Harry Potter movies anymore, because now I don’t trust them. If they would pull this with just a few months away from a release, who’s to say they won’t do it for DH? Why get excited if in the end it will be wasted energy? My Mom and I have a tradition of seeing Harry Potter movies (on the ‘off’ years) on Thanksgiving. We’d actually been planning and looking forward to this for over a year—especially now that I’m out of the house. Harry Potter during the holidays was a way of bringing that childhood ‘magic’ back. Now that magic moment won’t happen.

Avatar Image says:

Sue, excellent post. You definitely captured my feelings as well. As an adult, I understand this is a financial decision, and I can respect that. However, I still can’t help but feel used. To give a Harry Potter analogy, the HP fandom is just one giant member of WB’s Slug Club. I agree that petitions are probably too little too late (especially now that Twilight has moved into that spot), and boycotting the film would only hurt the people who really do care about the fans (Heyman for example). However, I believe if WB wants to wait for my money, they can wait. I will steer clear from other WB films and DVDs for the next year. Will it make a difference? Probably not, but I’ll sure feel better about it.

Avatar Image says:

The thing I really can’t get my head around is why wait untill this late to make this decision? The writers’ strike ended in February, what took them so long to figure it out? Nevermind releasing the trailer and press to get people hyped up, only to drop a bomb like this immediately after honestly just smacks of incompetence to me.

“I sure as heck would hate to be in the WB/Harry Potter marketing department’s shoes right now”

Avatar Image says:

Nadia: I agree that the biggest mess about this is that they left it so late to make the decision, and only after they had announced the world wide screening dates, and started to arrange premieres. As a result, WB have created a lot of bad feeling and look incompetent. Had they announced this earlier, or even hinted they were considering this, then the fans still wouldn’t have been happy, but I think they would have been more accepting. I also think that WB marketing will have a tough time getting the fans back on side, because they can’t possibly maintain interest for an extra 8 months without giving so much away that it hardly becomes worth seeing the movie at all (there is after all no mystery about the plot in general).

Avatar Image says:

Nadia and roonwit, I agree. I know the latest story says that they only started considering this move 3 or 4 weeks ago, but I don’t think that is true. Look at how long we waited for trailers and images. It seems to me like they have been considering this since the beginning of the summer, but only really started to discuss it once they saw how well Dark Knight did. Honestly, Dark Knight’s success is really the catalyst here.

Avatar Image says:

I’m just curious, has anyone heard any reactions from Ms. Rowling about this announcement? She such a strong supporter of her fans, I wonder how she feels about this change.

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