'Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince' Release Pushed Back To Summer

Studio cites previous film's successful July opening and writers' strike for move.

Don't expect any boy wizards to make box-office magic this year. Though a teaser trailer for it just came out a few weeks ago, the sixth film in the series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," will not be coming out in November after all. Warner Bros. announced Thursday (August 14) that it's pushing back the release date of the film to July 17, 2009.

The studio said that it had reconsidered the timing based on the overall market as well as the recent writers' strike.

"Our reasons for shifting 'Half-Blood Prince' to summer are twofold," Warner Bros. President and Chief Operating Officer Alan Horn said in a statement. "We know the summer season is an ideal window for a family tent-pole release, as proven by the success of our last Harry Potter film [released July 11, 2007], which is the second-highest-grossing film in the franchise, behind only the first installment."

Horn added that "like every other studio," Warner Bros. was still "feeling the repercussions of the writers' strike," which had affected scripts for other films, and changed "the competitive landscape for 2009." Because of this, the studio felt next summer was a "new window of opportunity" for the franchise. The film's producer, David Heyman, concurred, saying that this would allow them to "reach the widest possible audience."

Entertainment Weekly had already put Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, on the cover of this week's fall movies preview issue, on newsstands Friday. However, the studio was quick to dispel any speculation that the film was behind schedule or that the release-date change would affect anything in the film itself.

"The release-date change does not alter the production schedule for this or future Harry Potter films," Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group President Jeff Robinov said in a statement. "Post-production on 'Half-Blood Prince' was completed on time, and the studio's release plans for the two-part 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' will not be affected by this change."

"I am extremely proud of this latest film and of the work of [director] David Yates and our incomparable cast," Heyman said in a statement. "I believe we have developed and pushed the series further still. We are all looking forward to sharing it with Harry Potter fans around the world, even if we have to wait just a bit longer."

The delay is actually "good news" for fans, Robinov said, since it also means "the gap will now be shortened" between the release of "Half-Blood Prince" and the first installment of "Deathly Hallows."

"Even as we put finishing touches on this latest film," Yates said in a statement, "we are already beginning preparations on the final two films ... and I am excited to bring this remarkable series to the exciting and moving conclusion its loyal fans deserve."

Because of the change in release date, the studio will likely cut a new trailer as well, though a release date for that remains undetermined. Filming for the first part of "Deathly Hallows" starts in February.

Check out everything we've got on "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

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