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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
It's Harry Potter, nuff said.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Daniel Radcliffe Stars in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince".
OPENING WEEKEND: $90,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $270,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

April 27th, 2009: Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemortís defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, the well-connected and unsuspecting bon vivant Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information. Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts. Harry finds himself more and more drawn to Ginny, but so is Dean Thomas. And Lavender Brown has decided that Ron is the one for her, only she hadnít counted on Romilda Vaneís chocolates! And then thereís Hermione, simpering with jealously but determined not to show her feelings. As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof. He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again."

What to Expect: I don't know why I'm bothering to write a preview and do my usual analysis of this film's development, crew, cast and financial prospects. I should just say "It's Harry Potter." Full stop. What more do you need to know?

Article continues below

A blogger commenting on the posters and the trailer for this film said "Forget taglines. They should just say 'By now you're either with us or you're not.'" He has a point. Most people have seen a couple of the movies by now, and if you're wondering about the sixth installment of the franchise, you should know what to expect by this time. There'll be some good-to-great special effects, some stuff won't match up to the picture in your head from when you read the books, Dan Radcliffe won't be any taller and you'll be witness to a veritable parade of prestigious British stage and screen actors in what's probably the smallest role they've had in the last thirty years. It'll get above-average reviews, some critics will persist in being cantankerous about the whole fantasy genre, and people will go see it by the boatloads.

Or will they? Some of the number-crunchers are worried. See their worried little foreheads with the worried little furrows in them? Try and imagine it. They're worried because, well...Pottermania is so last year. Or two years ago. The Potter craze is dying down without new books to fuel it. While the series will no doubt remain a mainstay of young-adult literature for decades or even centuries to come, and new readers will discover it every day, it isn't quite at the fever-pitch of excitement it used to be. That torch has been passed (dubiously) to "Twilight" which is also over (so they say) but which has the virtue of being new and fresh, kinda. Potter in America is a phenomenom of ten years, which is already a hugely long lifespan for a craze of that kind, but nothing lasts forever. The fear is that with no new books coming out, and even the most die-hard Potterphiles finding new books to love, will anyone still care about Potter films?

Yes. The answer is yes. They will still care. Even if the tweens aren't reading Potter anymore, they still remember with fondness the time when they were, and will want to see the film version of...okay, probably the least popular book in the series. Which is another reason for the furrowed brows over in Accounting at Warner Bros. If you poll ten thousand Potter fans, I doubt you'll find more than a handful who'd pick "Half-Blood Prince" as their favorite novel of the series. It's light on action, high on angst and flashbacks, and deals a great deal with Harry and Dumbledore's final journeys together as mentor and protege, journeys through Dumbledore's memories of the young Tom Riddle, who would grow up to be the sinister and noseless Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). This is probably the least filmable of the Potter books, and therefore it's the one that seems to have had the most things changed.

Ah, changes to the storyline. Things left out or added. The often-heard cry of the fangirls and fanboys...."but they changed things!" Of course they changed things, they had to because books and movies aren't the same. See how that works? According to various statements from sources including screenwriter Steve Kloves, there have been action scenes added, the number of Harry and Dumbledore's journeys into the past has been lowered, and several key elements from the ending have been scrapped, including the battle at Hogwarts and Dumbledore's funeral. I can already hear the indignant screams of the fans at those last two in particular, which I confess I kind of agree with. The logic given for scrapping the battle at Hogwarts is that there's going to be a battle at Hogwarts in the final film, and they don't want it to seem repetitive.

First of all, that's bogus. Did the battles at Helm's Deep and then Pelennor Fields in the Lord of the Rings films seem repetitive? I didn't think they did. Furthermore, has everyone forgotten that they've split the final book into two films? And that the climactic battle at Hogwarts won't come until the second of those films? So there will be an entire film between that battle and the one in Half-Blood Prince? I don't buy the logic at all. And I'm mystified by the decision not to include Dumbledore's funeral, too. The death of Dumbledore is one of the very most important moments of the entire series, and to not give its proper weight does the story a disservice.

Then again, the Potter films have never been that strong with endings. From the ludicrous ovation-for-Hagrid at the end of "Chamber of Secrets" to the underdone ending of "Order of the Phoenix," the films tend to cut out the parts of the books' endings which give them emotional closure.

And you know what else is in the sixth book? Kissing. And romantic hijinks of the wacky variety. A lot of people felt that Hermione's character went pear-shaped in this book, uncharacteristically bitchy and jealous, and of course good old Ron Weasley gets a girlfriend in this book. It's also the book which finds Harry finally hooking up with his longtime admirer Ginny Weasley. In between there are attacking birds and love potions in chocolates and it's all so very Gossip Girl, and you can't tell me that someone at Warner Bros. hasn't uttered that very phrase. This aspect of the story can be played for comedy, which I hope it will be given how grim the rest of the story can be.

The adult actors are all the usual suspects. Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, and newcomer Jim Broadbent as Potions professor Horace Slughorn, who has key information about Voldemort's past. The lovely David Thewlis returns as Remus Lupin, and the batshit-crazy-looking Helena Bonham Carter as evil witch Bellatrix Lestrange, who killed Harry's godfather Sirius Black in the last film and who also killed Neville Longbottom's parents. And don't you think she isn't getting her comeuppance in the last film. Can't wait can't wait.

This crew has things down to a science by now, and the shoot for this film went pretty smoothly, with the exception of the tragic stabbing death of actor Robert Knox, an 18-year-old who had been cast as someone named Marcus Belby (I can't recall the character, if that tells you how large a part it was). The incident took place in Kent, England, and Knox was fatally stabbed when he intervened in an altercation involving his brother.

What didn't go smoothly was the release planning. Long slated to open last November, it was announced in August that the film's opening was being pushed back all the way to July of 2009. This was like a bomb going off among Potter fans, over 12,000 of whom signed a petition protesting the release pushback. Executives cited fallout from the Writer's Strike (and how long is that going to be useful as a scapegoat, anyway?) and unexpected scheduling issues for summer 2009, enabling them to make a strategic decision to move the film. I suspect that the abovementioned fear of box office lethargy led them to position the film in key moviegoing season, summer, although the holidays are no less lucrative and have worked fine for Potter films in the past. Needless to say, this played havoc with both the fall and summer release schedules. "Twilight" immediately moved up its release date to the now-vacant November 21st in a ridiculously symbolic snapping up of Potter's spot. Summer releases scrambled to get out of its way. I've uncovered no behind-the-scenes reason for the delay, such as reshoots or post-production difficulties, so I'm forced to conclude that the move was a financially strategic one. I for one think it would do fine in either spot, but what do I know? I just watch these movies.

You know something else that kind of concerns me? Dumbledore being out of the closet. After the release of the final book in the series, J.K. Rowling famously stated that she'd always thought Dumbledore was gay. The accounts in the final book of Dumbledore's boyhood friendship/obsession with future dark wizard Grindlewald sure reads like a young man's doomed love affair. This of course sent shockwaves across Potterdom, some decrying it, some applauding it. I just wonder if it'll affect how people see Dumbledore's character onscreen. I have heard that Michael Gambon was delighted with this revelation about his character and would often camp it up for fun when the cameras weren't rolling, but he's a professional and I seriously doubt he'd do so onscreen when playing the part. Still, it's just another thing the bean counters were probably stressing over.

In Conclusion: It's Harry Potter. Although I gotta say, I'm pretty excited by the trailers and publicity photographs. It looks moody and dark, exactly what it ought to be. Whether it's good or bad, I think it's definitely possible we'll see a small slump in the amount of money these last three films make, but they'll still be big hits.

Similar Titles: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
July 15th, 2009 (wide)
December 8th, 2009 (DVD)

Warner Bros. Pictures

David Yates

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, David Bradley, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Natalia Tena, Julie Walters, David Thewlis, Evanna Lynch, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, Jim Broadbent, Helen McCrory, Jessie Cave, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Frank Dillane

Total: 826 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Click here to view site

Rated PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality.

153 min




Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at Trailer Addict

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