Movies and Dates and Changes, Oh My

Aug 18, 2008

Posted by Melissa Anelli

What were you doing when you heard that the movie would be postponed? Here’s how it went for me: I was on the phone with a friend, when -


“What? What?!”

“They moved the movie.”

“They what the whattie?”

“The movie. It’s moved! No, this isn’t true. Is this a spoof site? No, I know, this is not a spoof site. Hey, wait, there’s a WB logo. Is it April? What’s happening?!”

“Melissa, what the heck are you talking about?”

“What? July? Why July!”

“What July?”

“Half-Blood Prince,” I finally explained. “They moved the sixth Potter film to JULY! That’s like a YEAR AWAY!”

“Oh wow,” she said, and we both sat there fuming for a second. She spoke next. “So what?”

“Huh,” I said. “Yeah. So what?”

Then Alex texted. “WB just gave us another amazing summer.”

Then Matt texted. “SUMMER!”

And that was it, my initial surge of anger was gone.

Look, I get it: I get the frustration, I get the disappointment, I get that everyone was so excited for this film in November, I completely understand that people feel WB is just in it for the money and is using fans. I hear that loud and clear and it’s been ringing hard and fast into our inboxes for a few days now.

But seriously. Let’s all take a chill here, and do it point by point:

Frustration: Another year to wait. Yeah. That sucks. From a fan’s perspective, it completely something-I-shouldn’t-say-heres that we are essentially being postponed so that Harry Potter has a wider audience (yes, moviespeak for Wider Audience equals More Box Office Returns in English).

Disappointment: We really wanted it now. It would have been over a year since anything new Potter-related came out, and we have to adjust our schedules and plans around the shift.

WB in it for the money: Did you think they were in it for turnips? This is their job: It’s how everyone – from megabucks-making Dan Radcliffe to the just-getting-by (I assume) production assistants – gets paid. Making the most money is, for them, business sense and part of their jobs. I won’t say all of their jobs, because not a single fan can deny the lengths the studio has gone to (if not as far as some fans would like) to stay true to the source material. We’re not amping up the sex and explosions here, the way they do to max other movies’ potential. But at the end of it, yeah, this is what they do: They make films that make money for the studio. As much as they can. Is it altruistic? No. Do they do this at the 100 percent disservice to the fans? No. Is their first priority money? Well, I can’t say for sure, but I’d split it in two: On one side we have the creatives, the director/actors/etc, the ones whose first priority is making a great film. Then you have the business minds: The producers, the rest of the studio. Money has to be theirs to mind, because that means the director and the other creatives don’t have to mind it. If someone didn’t mind the money, if service to the fans was all that was considered, wouldn’t we have five two-part, three-hour-each-part films so far? At the end of the day WB is a business, and if it wasn’t a business we couldn’t have these movies at all. They wouldn’t have been able to buy the rights. They wouldn’t have had the luxury of involving the author at the beginning, instead of using the old tried-and-true method of ignoring the author of a work completely. They wouldn’t have been able to stick to an all-British cast. Heck, we may have even seen Haley Joel Osment as Harry and Spielberg introducing aliens to Hogwarts. Hi, no thanks.

Am I, and is Sue, and is John, and is Frak, upset by the change? Absolutely. Sue expressed on this week’s PotterCast that she thought it was more to do with the phenomenal success of Dark Knight (why have another blockbuster this year when you have a guaranteed one next?) than actually thinking that the summer is more of a “family tent pole” or whatever. Let’s face it, it’s not: HP1 came out in November, as did HP2 and HP4; it’s not like we all curl up on our couches in the wintertime and decide never to get to the cineplex. The only time I ever go to the movies with my whole family is Thanksgiving, and I know I’m not alone. As we said on the show, we wish it would have been worded differently: John wishes Alan Horn hadn’t said he’d seen the film, Sue wishes they’d have just admitted that Dark Knight has to do with this, and I think they both raise excellent points. The Dark Knight thing is possible – so is the possibility that the film isn’t quite ready, or simply isn’t good enough, and in that case I’d much rather they fixed it than release something subpar. I do think the writer’s strike had to do with the decision, as all of the industry really was affected by it. It was probably a technically true if not lay-it-all-out-there-on-the-table announcement; it was also probably closely reviewed and advised. I do think they should have given us enough credit to understand that they are businesspeople with business motives, but I’m not going to roast them over a spit for staying true to those motives. Boy, do I have other things with which to occupy my time, and I hope you do, too.

Beedle the Bard comes out on December 4; it’s not like we don’t have, oh, a whole new Potter-related book to celebrate or anything. And instead of bemoaning the two-year wait between movies six and the first part of seven, now we can bemoan the two-year wait between five and six, more than half of which is gone already.

Hey, we’re Potter fans. We’re good at the waiting. Screaming, having protests, doing sit-ins, making Facebook groups – it’s not going to help. It helped when there was an erroneous comma on a poster: moving a blockbuster movie back to November just isn’t going to happen. The announcement wasn’t going to be made until they were sure, and now that it has, what are we going to do about it? Scream and moan and cry? If that’s your option, that’s fine, that’s your choice and I totally respect that, and if this causes you to no longer be a fan, OK, I respect that too. But I just don’t have the energy. If you think WB is using you, well, you’re right: They’re using you to get your $10 at the theater. They always have been, and have always been upfront about that. They have to earn it by showing us that going there will be worth it. That will be just as true on July 17 as it would have been on November 21.

So, in short, relax, Potter peeps. Have some friends text you with excitement about next summer. It worked for me.

23 Responses to Movies and Dates and Changes, Oh My

Avatar Image says:

yeah, I was all up in arms initially, but I have to admit I’m reaching this place of …zen. shock and anger are pretty unwieldy emotions especially when potter is involved, but now that I’m calm I’ve realized that the new canon will break up the year perfectly and there’s also a possibility cherrybomb will be out in early 09 and, I mean, a new potter film it is not, but it’s something fun.

Avatar Image says:

Hear hear! Or should I say ‘ear ‘ear. Sure it sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. And hey, isn’t it great that we have good things to look forward to for longer? Thank you, Melissa!

Avatar Image says:

I’m a lurker. A Potter fan from Oz. Your last blog changed that. Great post, Melissa. That’s very balanced analysis of the situation. That’s why you are the Leaky leader. That’s why I like Leaky’s Pottercast more than MuggleNet’s, a lot. Because, you, Sue, John and Frak are not just funny but wise as well. Love, Ozguy

Avatar Image says:

Very well said, Melissa. I agree with all your points and I respect your stance on this a lot. Personally, I was a bit disappointed at first, but it really isn’t the end of the world. We had a 1.5 year wait and a 2 year wait between Phoenix and Hallows 1. I really don’t see what difference it makes which of those waits comes first.

This is why I respect Leaky in general and Melissa especially. Excellent reporting and analysis as always.

Avatar Image says:

Hi Melissa! It was such a relief to listen to PotterCast and discover that I wasn’t the only fan not filled with anger and hatred toward WB. I am disappointed – absolutely – but excited in a weird way, because it just means that the Potter fun will be spaced more evenly over the next year, with your book, Beedle the Bard, LeakyCon, (all of which I’m looking forward to more than the movie), and then HBP.

The people I interact with on Leaky are so upset by the move; they’re all joining the protest groups, sending Howlers, and participating in boycotts. These are people I’ve become friends with and care about, so I’ve been feeling guilty for not being willing to join them in this – I’ve felt like such a bad fan. So, as I said, it was such a relief to learn that one of the fans whom I respect the most feels similarly to me.

Thank you so much for this blog post. It expresses my thoughts on the matter, but much more eloquently than I’ve been able to. I’m definitely going to recommend it to some of my angry friends. Perhaps it will help them to – as you request at the end of the post – relax! ;)

Avatar Image says:

Very well said indeed, Melissa! Thanks for yet another job well done! Personally, besides “Beetle the Bard” I’m really looking forward to YOUR book. So, there really isn’t the Potter wasteland out there that so many seem to view in the coming months. YAY!

Avatar Image says:

Whoops…make that “Beedle.” (Haven’t had enough coffee yet this AM).

Avatar Image says:

Nice post Melissa. I don’t blame people for being really hurt by this, especially young people who haven’t been disapointed like this in the past by those in power situations. I, however, do sort of feel like an unhappy Slug Club member, but I’ve had enough disapointment and run-ins with the bureaucracy in my short adult life to know things like this happens. Like I’ve said a few times, even though I don’t think petitions and boycotts of the film are necessary or even wise, I don’t plan on rushing out to see very many WB movies before the HBP release. Granted, I really hadn’t planned on it anyway. This just gives me an excuse to save my money, which I desperately need to do anyway. Only Body of Lies and Watchmen looked interesting, and as a fan of the graphic novel, I can’t imagine Watchmen will be able to live up to the hype. So I guess saving a few bucks here and there between now and next summer can be my way of “sticking it to the man,” but mostly it’s so I can afford to keep putting gas in my car.

Avatar Image says:

I admire your level-headedness, though I didn’t expect any less from you. I have to say, I was really, really annoyed when I heard about it. I still am. I decided to join the boycotts in spirit—basically, since I have a four-month old, I’m not going to any movies any time soon, so I tell myself that I’m boycotting them in protest but really, I just don’t go to movies! The one good thing is that there’s less of a wait until DH, I do agree. And even though I’m afraid my interest may wane in the next year, there are other movies coming out next summer that I’m already excited for, so I think my interest will last.

Avatar Image says:

Well said Melissa! I was shocked at first, then upset, then sad, but in the end it is okay. I think it was just horrible to see the number of days jump back up on the countdown, when it was so close. But it really does work out for the best. I will be getting the entire set on books on tape for Christmas/birthday so I will have plenty of time to hear those before the release in July. Also, I’m going to take the release date off from work so I can go to a midnight release instead of having to work like I would have this year. So, after my initial disappointment and anger, this is actually going to work out even better! And you’re right! We have plenty to look forward too. Beedle of the Bard is totally exciting as well as the full length trailer, which will, hopefully, be attached to a GOOD movie! And there is always Pottercast to fill my HP void! I missed you guys!!!!

Avatar Image says:

Bravo, Melissa. I very much agree.

Although I must admit that the thought of thousands of red envelopes pouring into WB’s mail slot makes for an amusing image.

Avatar Image says:

erroneous comma on a poster? You wouldn’t be refering to iMax’s ‘enhancement’ of Emma Watson’s picture from the last movie would you?

Avatar Image says:

This is the first time I’ve decided to make a post on this site so please bear with me. I share your sentiments that some of the fandom has gone completely over the top in relation to the delay and that there is no way that WB are going to change their mind and move back to a November opening.

The reason for this over the top reaction has been caused by WB themselves however.

I believe that most of the fandom would have been pacified if they had said that they needed more time to complete the film or that they wanted to add an extra scene or something even if it had been a lie.

The very fact that they have said that the film is on time and could be in the cinemas by November and the only reason its being moved to the Summer is to help their 2009 turnover is what is pissing everybody off. It would also have helped if the decision had been made earlier in post production. Yes we should accept business is business, but greed is not always good.

I’m not sure it is a wise business move either. I am a trained economist and I run a small limited company. The Western Economies are facing recessions in the coming months. The situation is likely to be worse next summer so there will be less disposable income about than in 2008 leading to less money spent on all leisure activities. Its also better to have cash in the bank than the promise of income in the future. Yes it may have an impact keeping up the share price following 2009’s results but that is about all.

The licensees especially Electronic Arts will be spitting blood. WB’s decision has huge impact on their expected 2008 turnover. Depending on the contracts I can see lawsuits in the offing which may have an impact on future WB profits for years to come. Again due to the economic climate some of the smaller licensees may struggle to survive without income from the sale of Potter related items.

Its a PR disaster for WB also particularly here in the UK. Though the money comes from WB we in the UK feel strongly the films and books are British. The cast is British and its made here in Britain. The fact that the Royal film performance has been cancelled is a big deal. It is a snub in the face of the very people that make the films as the charity that would have benefitted from the premiere represents film makers who require monetary help due to long term illness or old age.

The overall point I am trying to make is that WB’s decision affects more than just the Harry Potter fans and I therefore have no problem if people wish to show their dissatisfaction by boycotting future Warner Bro’s productions as I will be doing (Apart from HPB). This is not because I think it will change anybody’s mind, but it will make me feel that I will have at least stood up to a company that is literally playing with people’s lives and livelihoods, which is more it appears than you are prepared to do.

Avatar Image says:

I completely agree.

I mean it’s weird for them to suddenly delay a movie eight months, and I was disappointed initially, but it’s really not a big deal. I don’t understand why people are so irate about it.

Avatar Image says:

Melissa and “Pedroj” – I agree with both of you and think you, together, touched on nearly every subject I would have commented on. Thanks to you both for saving me the typing!!

But one VERY IMPORTANT subject no one else has touched on is this – WB says we will have less of a wait between HBP and the first half of DH, but DO YOU BELIEVE THEM AFTER THIS? If this is, as it almost certainly is, a purely business move, and none of the fans could sway them now, what on earth will stop them from changing the release dates in the future? I think this is a disasterous precedent to set and I will, personally, continue with my boycott of any WB product, with the clear exception of any HP release.

Well chums, here’s hoping WB only screws up this once. Thanks again for everything, Melissa!

Avatar Image says:

Wow, that really helped. I was kind of mad this whole time because WB moved it back, but after reading this a feel better about the move. It put it in perspective a bit. I guess we are already half way there, and there’s Beedle the Bard to look forward to, plus Harry, A History. Things are looking up!

Avatar Image says:

I am really glad that you posted this. When I first saw the article I had the feeling of its a sick joke, then it was OMG its real, to that sucks and acceptance. I normally read peoples comments and sometimes comment myself in the news posts. But when people just yelled and threw tantrums in the comments for every article no matter what, it was time for me to no longer go to the comments. Its just 1 childish and 2 it doesn’t accomplish anything. We still get the movie so lets move on with our lives. I do still try to comment I am just not reading what anyone else has to say, because I want to continue to like our community.

Avatar Image says:

Melissa, I also agree with what both you and pedroj said - obviously, WB is a business, and they need to make money, etc., etc. I just don’t think that WB’s decision is necessarily a good business decision (and it was definitely handled badly, from a PR POV). I’m all for them making profits - as you said, that’s what they’re there for. What I object to is the way they handled the announcement (esp. Alan Horn’s so-called “apology” and his asinine statement about seeing the movie and what have you). I wouldn’t even mind so much now, if they’d just basically come back and say something like, “You know, we goofed in how we handled this. We still think it’s best for our company if we keep it in July, but we’ve decided to [make the movie longer/give fans xyz as a special bonus/whatever!!] to help make it up to the fans.” - that might help the fact that they’ve created a PR fiasco for themselves (and might help “pacify” us, to use Horn’s word rolls eyes). What about sites like Leaky and other fan sites who got to do cast interviews last winter? How out-of-date are those interviews going to be before everyone’s allowed to actually use them? What about the things like the calendar and EA games and all the other merchandise that are still going to be released? (Not to mention that I for one [and I’m likely not alone] just feel a bit sick every time I see these new pix, etc. now, just b/c of the way that WB has treated the fans who’ve BEEN giving them plenty of $$$ in the past!) What about canceling the benefit showing with the Royal Family - are they still going to donate to a charity instead??? There’s just so much “more” here, IMO, than just the fact that they need good money coming in and all those other aspects of “business”—there is also the fact that they supposedly are partially in the business of relating to the people whose money they want to continue receiving. They have whole departments, etc., whose purposes are to find out what people want/relate to, etc., and yet they are deliberately and intentionally creating ill will among the fans of THE biggest-grossing movie franchise EVER, and handling it all BADLY in the process?? That makes NO “business sense” to me!!

But beyond all that… I really hate to even mention this, but given what you’ve written, and what else is posted on the site… can we please get the count-down on the site changed to reflect the new date??? If it’s really going to be July, seeing it now, showing as less than 90 days till the movie’s release is actually… depressing, every time I check the site (which is a few times each day).

Avatar Image says:

I have to agree with Pedroj on this, overall. I agree with you, too, Melissa, that yes, WB’s a business, and they need to make money, and obviously we’ve been “used” before to make them money and so on… I will certainly be seeing HBP and DH as many times as I ever would have done, but I have to say that things just feel “different” at this point, though. Right now, I’m not planning on seeing any other WB-produced films between now and HBP, b/c I don’t feel that they showed ANY consideration for the fans - not that the fans needed to be the focal point of the business decision, but SURELY they have someone in their massive PR departments that paused just a half-second to consider the fuller ramifications of what they were doing. Moving HBP might possibly pull in more $$$ for them next summer, and yes, I can certainly see the writer’s strike having a bearing on what other films they might/might not have ready for next summer. All of those aspects, I FULLY agree with, in relation to making a “good” business decision. Overall, though, I don’t think that what WB has done is a “good” decision in regard to how they handled the announcement - or Alan Horn’s so-called “apology” and his absolutely asinine statements about having seen the movie and having to “pacify” the fans!!—all of that has just been an absolute JOKE in regard to being “good” for the film OR the company.

As Pedroj said… what about all the other aspects that WB has affected? You may have not wanted to mention this in your own post, but what about Leaky and other fan sites’ visits to the set that they were about to be able to start releasing, and now, those interviews will be horribly out-of-date by the time they’re allowed to be used? What about companies like EA Games and all the other merchandisers? Personally, I feel a bit sick now every time I see new pics for the movie (instead of the thrill I felt prior to their announcement), b/c it’s another reminder of how little regard WB has had for the people who made HP into the #1 money-making movie franchise in history! They may need to make more money, but did they have to spit in the faces of the people who’ve already given them THAT status?? And again, as Pedroj mentioned—what about canceling on the Royal film performance and the charity associated with that? Are they willing to still donate to the charity? WB may be making more money on HBP by waiting, but they are SO not the only ones who are affected by this decision. Part of the defense that JKR and WB used against SVA is that he didn’t “get” the main principles of HP (obviously, there’s more to it than that, but that phrase has stuck with me thru this whole WB fiasco!) ... talk about WB making a mockery of that statement!!!!

And as far as money goes… what about fans who already had planned trips to NY to see Equus around the same time as the HBP premiere and so forth? That’s not me, personally, but I know those people exist. Would WB like to offer them some sort of recompense? snort Yeah, right. And Hagrid’s part house-elf!!! :-P

Yes, Potter fans know how to wait, and we will enjoy the 10th Anniversary SS/PS, and also the Bard’s book in Dec. - there is NO doubt of that. But that doesn’t mean that WB hasn’t made a major mistake in how they handled this. Perhaps part of the way they might consider “pacifying” us is to do something honest, like just admitting, “you know, we messed up in how this was handled, so to try to help the wait a bit, we want the movie to be longer/fans to be allowed to do [whatever - fill in the blank]”—they need to do something to make it so that the fans actually “gain” something by this wait, and so that the wait between now and next July isn’t just spinning the wheels of the fandom, and hoping that our excitement for the movie can be restored to its previous level. Because, as much as I love this book, and as much as I truly want to see this movie, right now, the whole thing just makes me a bit sick. By next summer, maybe I’ll be past that, but I don’t know that, and I doubt I’m the only one to feel something similar. I’m not “mad” at WB in the sense that this is all I think of or whatever (I do have a life!), but they have managed to dampen my enthusiasm for this movie for the time being, and for that alone, I’m thoroughly unhappy with them, to put it mildly.

On a related note… and I hate to mention this, but please… if what you’ve said is true about nothing having an effect on WB’s decision, etc… then can we PLEASE get the movie count-down on Leaky changed to the “new” date? Seeing it counting down to November is thoroughly depressing at this point!!

Avatar Image says:

Please ignore the strike-throughs in the above comment—that’s what I get for typing as I think! Yeesh!!

Avatar Image says:

A rather late comment so I may be talking to myself but I just want to thank Melissa for her calming nature towards the disappointed and very angry fans. I’m afraid I was livid for much longer (couple of days) about the news, however its not so much the news that made me angry but the manner in which they pulled the rug from under our feet and consequently the poor PR from Alan Horn. My anger has now dissipated and I often post jokes about it to lighten the mood on comment boards (though the jokes are so bad it has the opposite effect).

I disagree, however, that protesting etc serves no purpose. Protesting may not change anything material but it does let WB know how fans feel and how many of them there are. And if they decide to boycutt, or at least let WB think they will boycutt (wink wink!), then there is a chance that WB will be at least be concerned and even if it is too late for them to do anything, they will think twice in future how they treat their customers through PR. Alan Horn himself said they were flooded with emails. That is already a result! They know. They were stirred. And that’s healthy. Hopefully they will learn never again to start a marketing juggernaut that hypes up the anticipation of fans only to pull the rug from their feet. The thing is, there are two sets of angry protests. One set are the ones angry at the reschedule, full stop. The others are angry at the way the reschedule was implemented. I was in the latter, I’m fine with the reasons for the reschedule.

Anyway, it turns out to be a blessing because my anticipation are heightened for just 2 special books now. Tales of Beadle the Bard, and Melissa Anelli and the Fandom of Harry Potter! Oh ok, Harry, A History. And by the way, there was this article yesterday in the telegraph giving an extract of Jo’s foreward in Melissa’s new book.

I reckon the book sales is going to soar with this kind of publicity! Good luck with it Melissa.

Well it was good talking to myself, now where did I put the number of my shrink?

Avatar Image says:

Thank you Melissa for (slightly) calming me down and thanks to the others for pointing out what a gaff this could end up being anyways for WB. But, here is the interesting question. What does Jo think of all this chaos? I think that the fans would really like to know as she takes part in the movies and such. Would love it if Melissa could ask her for a statement. ^^ Please?

Avatar Image says:

Melissa, I really don’t mind that HBP has been postponed. What I do mind are the statements from WB regarding the change. I don’t see how anyone older than five years could be expected to believe that tripe. Corporations are like politicians. We get the truth about 5% of the time and I’m skeptical about the 5%.

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