What Movie 5 Means for Book 7

by Damon Klassen

Yes, I am going to address the topic that I think most Potter fans constantly have on their mind: the release date of Book 7. Like many fans, the 07/07/07 (July 7, 2007) date really intrigued me, but I would not believe it until Bloomsbury, Scholastic, or even Jo, confirmed it. However, I believe whole heartedly that Warner Bros. have all but confirmed that this is in fact the expected release date of Book 7.

When Warner Bros. announced that the fifth movie would be released on July 13, 2007, it completely supported the 07/07/07 book date. And quite frankly, I could not understand why so many fans thought this meant that Book 7 would not come out on July 7. To really explain why the film release date supports the book release date, I need to go into some details regarding the box office profits of the first four Potter films, so bear with me.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’’s (Sorcerer’’s) Stone (November 2001) was a huge box office success both domestically (North America) and worldwide. It set the record for biggest opening weekend ever and became the 2nd highest grossing film of all-time. The film grossed $317.6 million domestically and $658.9 million internationally (totaling $976.5 million worldwide).

As with most high-profile films, the sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets(November 2002) did not fare quite as well at the box office, but was still a huge success. The second film in the series grossed $262.0 million domestically and $614.7 million internationally (totaling $876.7 million worldwide).

That brings us to June 2004, when the third film was released. Warner Bros. decided to release the third film during the summer months. After all, Harry had proven to be successful for them during the holiday season, so it made sense to release it during the busiest movie-going season of the year. Surely Harry Potter could battle the hug esummer competition and reign supreme again. Well, unfortunately for us fans, Harry could not. It is also important to note that while North Americans attend the movies more in summer, the international box office is a lot weaker.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had the biggest opening weekend of the three films so far and still has records for the biggest opening weekend in some European countries. However, the summer competition was too much and the film had the worst “legs” and lowest total of any Potter movie. The film garnered $249.5 million domestically and $540.3 million internationally (totaling $789.8 million). After such a huge opening, it should have been much more successful, but it made $87 million less than its predecessor. It also remains the only Harry Potter film to date that did not gross at least $600 million overseas and $800 million worldwide.

At this point, it seemed like Warner Bros. would be planning to release a new Harry Potter film every 1½ years. The fourth film was scheduled for release in November 18, 2005 and the fifth film was scheduled for release on June 1, 2007.

When Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released, it became apparent that November was a much better month to release a Harry Potter film. It grossed $290.0 million domestically and $602.2 million internationally (totaling $892.2 million worldwide).

Shortly following its success, Warner Bros. revoked its June 1, 2007 release date for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Warner Bros. and David Heyman (producer for all the films to date), implied that they were leaning towards a November 2007 release date.

A few weeks later, Warner Bros. announced that the release date of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix would be July 13, 2007.

What? July 13? Where did that come from? Looking at the evidence, why would Warner Bros. release another Harry Potter movie in the summer when all evidence points to the fact that they will earn approximately $100 million less than if they released the film during the holiday season like usual? And why July 13? The two dates that Warner Bros. was focusing on were June 1 and November 16 (the respective summer and winter weekends Harry Potter films are traditionally released on). Does anyone else think it is not just a little coincidental that July 13 is the first weekend after July 7 (the speculated Book 7 release date)?

Ask yourself, when is Pottermania most evident?

Well, Pottermania always peaks when a new book is released. Warner Bros., which I should remind you is a corporation that wants to make money, would probably love to ride the wave of hype following a book release. Scheduling the movie release 6 days after the release of the final book in the series would mean getting audiences in theatres during the absolute peak of Pottermania. Harry Potter will never be as big as it will be when the final book is released. Any businessman would want to capitalize on that hype and milk it for every single penny it is worth. Since releasing the movie in summer would make no sense unless Warner Bros. had a very good reason, it would appear that Jo herself is at least thinking that a summer 2007 release is still likely.

We all know that Jo will never confirm a release date until she is absolutely satisfied with the final draft of Book 7. But, during the release of Half-Blood Prince in summer 2005, she mentioned that she thought the book could be released in about two years. She has also commented on how 2006 will be the year she writes the last Harry Potter book.

But we all know this could change. She’’s never said with 100% certainty that the book would be out in 2007. However, she may have confided with either her publishers and/or Warner Bros. that she is quite hopeful that the book would be ready in time for a summer 2007 release date. Her publishers, naturally, would then target a July 7 release for obvious reasons and Warner Bros. would target a July 13 film release. In doing so, Jo does not have to commit to a release date, but the businesses profiting from her genius story can set up their plans for the best case scenario releases based on what Jo has said to them.

Obviously, I can’’t prove Jo has ever spoken to Warner Bros. or Bloomsbury, but this is the only explanation I can come up with for releasing the fifth Harry Potter movie on July 13. Especially seeing how close July 13 is to July 7. If I were a businessman, it would be a dream to capitalize on the “Book 7: 07/07/07” marketing strategy and then releasing a film at the height of Pottermania.