LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Warner Bros on Friday said it abandoned plans to convert the next Harry Potter movie to 3-D, bringing mixed reactions from box office watchers and fans of the multibillion-dollar blockbuster franchise.
The Hollywood studio said it was unable to produce a 3-D version of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” in time for its release on November 19.
The movie will be presented only in conventional 2-D and in Imax theaters, but the second installment, due to be released in July 2011, is still set to be released in 2-D and 3-D.
“Despite everyone’s best efforts, we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality,” Warner Bros. said in a statement.
The six previously released Harry Potter movies, based on the best-selling novels by author J.K. Rowling, have raked in an estimated $5.4 billion at the worldwide box office.
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, released in 2-D in 2009, earned $933 million worldwide at the box office. “Deathly Hallows; Part 1” is expected to do about the same figure, Hollywood sources said.
IMAX Corp declined to comment on Friday’s statement regarding “Deathly Hallows: Part I” — which covers about half of the final book in Rowling’s series.
The news was greeted with a mixture of shrugs and dismay by Harry Potter fans, but most said on websites they would go to see “Deathly Hallows” anyway.
Some industry sources said the movie might take a hit in terms of box offices receipts, given the $2 to $3 dollar markup in prices for 3-D screenings, but others weren’t so sure.
The DreamWorks Animation 3-D movie “How to Train Your Dragon,” for example, saw 68 percent of its opening weekend ticket sales in March come from 3-D and Imax screenings.
Brandon Gray, president of Boxofficemojo.com, said the financial impact was hard to predict.
“People are going to ‘Harry Potter’ primarily for the story. It is one of the few sure things this holiday season,’ Gray said. “3-D is over-rated and might be cooling. It is not the end of the world for Warner Bros,” he added.
Paul Dergarabedian of box office trackers Hollywood.com said the shortfall from higher 3-D ticket prices could be offset by fans going more than once.
“Whatever is lost from the 3-D ticket bonus might be made up in repeat business. And families will appreciate the lower prices,” Dergarabedian said.
“3-D isn’t that big of a deal anyway. ALL I CARE ABOUT IS HARRY POTTER. The awesomeness of the movie trumps all obstacles,” wrote Joshua.A on Harry Potter fan site mugglenet.com.
Other fans said they would rather see the movie next month than wait even longer for a 3-D conversion. But there was also huge disappointment in some quarters. “This sucks big time!!!!,” wrote Carrie-Ann Brooks.
Warner Bros. is owned by Time Warner Inc..
Reporting by Paul Thomasch and Jill Serjeant; Editing by Gary Hill