If you're a Harry Potter fan who had to suffer the anguish of Warner Bros. delaying the latest big-screen adventure of your favorite boy wizard, I'm sorry to report that the universe is not done punishing you: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will now have to wait two weeks after its initial theatrical release before it will premiere in IMAX theaters.
Harry and Co. are on standby until Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen finishes its run in IMAX theaters, leaving Warner Bros. potentially screwed when it comes to turning a profit from Half-Blood Prince's IMAX box office.
I'm laughing at Warner Bros. right now. The studio causes this big stir last Fall by yanking Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from its original November 2008 release date in order to pad the studio's slim roster of summer 2009 blockbusters, and what ends happening? Karma, pure and simple (at least IMHO). They tried to make a move to snag some extra cash and make their books for Summer '09 look good, and instead it looks like they'll end up meeting the same fate they feared (lower profits) on the road they took to avoid it. IMAX is already feeling the burn: shares of the company dropped 4% on Monday.
According to Forbes, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will only debut in two IMAX theaters on its scheduled July 14th release date: one in New York City, the other in Los Angeles. Unless you live in either of those places (or are willing to travel), you will have an additional two-week wait before you catch Harry Potter on the big, big, screen.
Make no mistake: this is a significant blow to Warner Bros. Both Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen offer fans exclusive content that is only be available on the IMAX prints. For Transformers 2, that content comes in the form of several sequences that were shot in hi-resolution "true IMAX"; for Half-Blood Prince, twelve minutes of 3D footage. This kind of exclusive content provides great incentive for moviegoers to shell out extra money to see a film in IMAX; the only question now is, will Harry Potter fans wait two extra weeks and/or shell out additional cash to see Half-Blood Prince in IMAX?
We saw last year with the The Dark Knight that movie fans are open to repeat viewings of a film if they can't intially snag an IMAX ticket on opening weekend. But The Dark Knight was also an Oscar-winning film - will Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince be good enough to warrant that kind of consumer interest?
I can't say anything for sure, but my vote is "nope." Personally, I want Warner Bros. to take this hit. I want Hollywood to see that making decisions to fatten your pocket or pad your summer stats sometimes has consequences. As for you Harry Potter fans out there: this isn't my fault, but I'll still say sorry; hopefully you get to enjoy this film (in all its IMAX glory) sometime before the next century...
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hits standard theaters (and two NYC/LA IMAX theaters) on July 14, 2009. The movie hits IMAX theaters everywhere on July 29, 2009.
Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen hits theaters (standard and IMAX) on June 24, 2009.