‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ moves to summer ’09

Wow, this is some very major and unexpected news. Box Office Mojo is reporting that Warner Bros. has moved Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from mid-November of this year to next summer, July 17, 2009 to be exact. The weekend before Thanksgiving has been the franchise’s most popular date to open on so one has to wonder why the change? Well, it may have something to do with the studio’s massive success of The Dark Knight, which opened on the same weekend in July that Half-Blood Prince is now poised to occupy next year. The previous film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, also bowed on a similar date from July of last year. Three of the first four Potter films, though, launched on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

This major shake-up in the November release schedule may cause Sony Pictures to react with a move of their own. Quantum of Solace, the latest Bond film, is currently slated for release on November 7 of this year, but with Potter now vacating the November 21-23 frame, Agent 007 may fall back two weeks. The weekend before Thanksgiving is one of the most lucrative weekends to open a film on because that release also position’s such a blockbuster to have a strong second weekend at the box office since that is when the major holiday occurs. Casino Royale opened on that same weekend in 2006 and became the highest grossing Bond film in history. It also earned an impressive 4.1 multiplier (total divided by opening weekend).

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Box Office Data Sources: The Numbers and Box Office Mojo