Even if the 3D conversation looked terrible, it wouldn't have stopped all that many fans from stampeding into a 3D theater on November 19th and plunking down that extra $5 per ticket. And with more and more films going 3D all at once, finding 2D options is becoming a challenge, meaning that a 3D conversion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I would have likely been the only choice for the majority of moviegoers. The fact that Alan Horn and company is basically saying 'we don't have the time to do it right, so we're not doing it at all' is the kind of 'whatever works for the movie' play that makes Warner Bros. my favorite major studio. That extra 3D ticket-price bump would have guaranteed the seventh film opening with the biggest three-day total of the series, if not a place amongst the top opening weekends of all time (a list that series-opener Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone topped with $91 million for six months from November 2001 to May 2002). The current record holder is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with $102 million on the same weekend in 2005. For the studio, any studio, to say 'no thank you, we're worried it will hurt the film' is an uncommon show of common sense decency in this day and age.
It's also a promising sign that Warner Bros. believes that the seventh Harry Potter (which was just rated PG-13 for 'some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images') is darn-well good enough not to need a 3D presentation to ensure massive box office, although a $290-310 million domestic take would have been assured regardless. This will be the first Harry Potter film since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to go out without any kind of 3D gimmickry, as the climax of Order of the Pheonix and the prologue of Half-Blood Prince were converted to 3D for IMAX showings (well before Avatar made it cool). This is also pretty good news for Dreamworks' animated super-villain saga Megamind, which will now keep all of its 3D screens for an extra week until the double-whammy of The Nutcracker 3D (a likely smaller release from Freestyle) and Walt Disney's Tangled on November 24th. As of this time, Warner still plans to release the eighth and final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II, in 3D and IMAX 3D on July 15th 2011. The press release is below.
Warner Bros Pictures has made the decision to release “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” in 2D, in both conventional and IMAX theaters, as we will not have a completed 3D version of the film within our release date window. Despite everyone’s best efforts, we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality. We do not want to disappoint fans who have long-anticipated the conclusion of this extraordinary journey, and to that end, we are releasing our film day-and-date on November 19, 2010 as planned. We, in alignment with our filmmakers, believe this is the best course to take in order to ensure that our audiences enjoy the consummate “Harry Potter” experience.
Producer David Heyman said, “For 10 years, we have worked alongside Alan Horn and the studio, whose priority has always been to preserve the integrity of Jo Rowling’s books as we have adapted them to the screen, and this decision reflects that commitment.”
Director David Yates continued, “This decision, which we completely support, underscores the fact that Warner Bros. has always put quality first.” As scheduled, on July 15, 2011, we will deliver to conventional and IMAX theaters our final installment of the film franchise, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” in both 2D and 3D formats.