Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Reel Opinion: Harry Potter and the Stupid Release Date

It can be argued that certain genres of movies should be released during certain times of the year; Christmas movies belong in December, horror movies in October, action/superhero flicks in the summer, etc. Taking it a step further, it can be argued that certain films belong in certain release dates; LORD OF THE RINGS/HOBBIT in December, STAR WARS in May, and HARRY POTTER in December.

THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2, the 8th and final POTTER film, has already made squillons of dollars. Warner Bros. would like us to believe that they strategically picked July 15th to take advantage of a somewhat-pale summer season. Let’s not give them that much credit. After the success of HALLOWS PART 1 (released in, ahem, December of last year), Warner Bros. probably didn’t want to lose any momentum and keep the two movies (which are really one big film) fresh in people’s minds. Also, they may have been considering a packed December this year, with SHERLOCK HOLMES 2, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and Steven Spielberg’s TINTIN and WARHORSE all primed for holiday business. But lets face it, with the POTTER films having such a strong fanbase, did they really think no one would show up in December?

The truth likely is the greedy bastards saw massive summer dollar signs and jumped at it. Financially, they did the right thing. But what about the long term effects?
Let’s back up a sec and talk about why POTTER belongs in December in the first place. The first five films were released during December, and it became a comfort for people to know they would have Harry and his magical world to welcome them into the magic of the holiday season. Perfect match. Secondly, the films have many scenes that take place with snowfall and the holidays; kind of difficult to get wrapped up in the spirit of the films’ geography when you’re watching holiday visuals in the heat of the summer. And thirdly, the POTTER films have always had a “back to school” vibe running through them. Again, atmosphere better suited to colder times of the year. It is a psychological impression that runs deeper than many moviegoers

On top of all that, if Warner Bros. decides to push the film for any Oscar contention, they will have a massive hill to climb. Unfortunately for Harry, by the time the Academy members start filling out their ballots in January 2012, films released during the month of July 2011 will seem as far away as Mars. There are reasons why the serious Oscar contenders are released in November-December, and timing is the big one. Warner Bros. may be swimming in the buck$ right now, but they may have really blundered in targeting Harry for July.

What say you?


  1. My opinion was they were looking for a midnight release record breaker. Although I thought the average age of the midnight crowds was around 22-25, there were a lot of school-aged kids there. Personally speaking, my 14-year old would not have been allowed to go see this movie at midnight if he had school the next day. And now only about halfway thru the summer the younger kids have their days free and want to go see it again and again. Yes, I agree, big money maker...

  2. Weren't 7 of the 8 Potter movies released in November? Also, didn't the 8th movie get pushed back because of the writer's strike?

  3. The first two were released in November (in movie-land, November is considered "holiday season"). AZKABAN was released in May, and the box office numbers dropped considerably. They went back to November for GOBLET, and then July again for PHOENIX and PRINCE.


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