Final ‘Harry Potter’ Book’s Release Set As Films’ Star Fights Controversy

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' will come out July 21, one week after 'The Order of the Phoenix' hits theaters.

For the last time ever, J.K. Rowling has announced plans to release a “Harry Potter” novel around the time of both her and Harry’s birthdays. Like most of its predecessors, the seventh and final book in the blockbuster franchise, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” will hit bookstores “as the seventh month dies” — or more precisely, on July 21.

In your average book series, a release date is rarely related to plot points, but in this case it is significantly tied to the prophecy that pitted the boy wizard against the dark Lord Voldemort. Release dates are usually picked to accommodate marketing strategies, and since Rowling’s publisher wants her younger readers to make the midnight parties that often accompany the moment the book goes on sale (at 12:01 a.m.), it helps for the release to take place on a weekend or over the summer — or in this case, both.

Plus, the next Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” comes out a week prior, on July 13 (see ” ‘Phoenix’ Trailer Reveals A Harry Potter Who’s Ready To Fight — And Kiss” ). Potter-mania will already be in full effect, but there will be enough distance between the two events so they can dominate their respective weeks.

Meanwhile, Daniel Radcliffe, the young actor who helped bring Harry to life to moviegoers, is selling out tickets in another arena: in anticipation of his upcoming stage debut in a revival of Peter Shaffer’s “Equus” in London’s West End. Joining Richard Griffiths (his “Uncle Vernon” from the Potter films), Radcliffe stars as Alan Strang, a seemingly normal 17-year-old who is fascinated by horses but inexplicably blinds six of them with a hoof pick (the play tries to understand why). But since Radcliffe is so closely associated with the “Harry Potter” series — which is often deemed children’s literature even though it’s grown increasingly darker and more adult throughout the series — his new project has caused a bit of a stir, as the role requires him to simulate sex acts and be naked onstage.

When the role was first announced in July, Radcliffe sent a note to fan sites explaining, “This is obviously a huge departure for me as an actor, but ‘Equus’ is such an amazing play that this really was an opportunity not to be missed. I only hope I do the role justice.”

Previews for “Equus” start February 16 at the Gielgud Theatre, where it officially opens February 27 and runs through June 9.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

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