Warner Bros. sent surprising word today that it has bumped Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from a release this November all the way back to July 17, 2009 — a savvy numerological strategy landing Potter exactly one year's worth of Fridays from its opening day for The Dark Knight. Studio boss Alan Horn officially attributed the move to more practical considerations, however, namely the fact that Warners' vibrant content chain is missing a few links next summer thanks to the writer's strike. But don't get any ideas about Jonze-esque hold-ups or other snags, added Jeff Robinov:
“The release date change does not alter the production schedule for this or future Harry Potter films. 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. We know Harry Potter fans are eagerly anticipating seeing the final chapters unfold onscreen. In fact, the good news for them is that the gap will now be shortened between Half-Blood Prince and the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
Indeed, ecstatic Potter fans around the world rejoiced at having to wait another 11 months for the series' next installment — particularly those at MuggleNet, where glowing reactions ranged from "I AM SO PISSED RIGHT NOW YOU HAVE NO IDEA. 2008 is officially the "WORST YEAR EVER" to creatively spelled calls for a Warner Bros. boycott. And of course, feel free to sign the inevitable angry petition for an earlier release date. Now Variety reports that Disney is moving its own animated fall tentpole Bolt — which would have opened opposite Potter on Nov. 28 — back to July 17 as well. Universal and Will Ferrell, meanwhile, which previously had that day to itself for Land of the Lost, were last spotted scouting downtown window ledges at lunch. Send our apologies if you see them.