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Harry Potter bets on purists over prices -- this time

October 8, 2010 |  4:38 pm

Potter
The fact that a studio won't convert a movie to 3-D amounts to bigger news these days than the fact that it will.

Warner Bros. today announced that it wouldn't release a converted 3-D version of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" when it puts out the movie on Nov. 19, reversing its earlier plans.

The studio is certainly leaving money on the table with the decision -- as expensive as conversion is, the ability to charge a premium for 3-D tickets would have meant an even bigger windfall for the studio. But rather than risk squandering all the goodwill the six previous "Harry Potter" pictures garnered, WB decided not to slap together a conversion that hard-core fans might resent. (It will, however, convert the second of the two "Hallows" parts; it's quick conversion, not conversion, that the studio is apparently resisting.)

"Despite everyone's best efforts, we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality,'' the studio said in a statement. "We do not want to disappoint fans who have long-anticipated the conclusion of this extraordinary journey."

The Warners decision is indeed something of a fan-friendly move, what with the audience backlash to 3-D generally and the fact that six "Potter" movies were seen and loved without the extra dimension. As my colleague Richard Verrier writes on our sister blog Company Town, "the move appears aimed at avoiding a repeat of the controversy that erupted last spring when consumers and critics widely panned the quality of the 3-D effects in 'Clash of the Titans,' " (though that controversy didn't really hurt that movie at the box office).

Of course, fan-friendly can be harmonious with self-interest too. The studio still has to sell another "Potter" picture, and even if the conversion on the first "Hallows" is solid and the studio could reap a nice profit on 3-D prices, why topple the bucket into which it spent so many years carefully putting milk?

The 3-D format will still be everywhere this winter and beyond -- including, possibly, in a later re-release of the first "Hallows" picture. And television. And DVD. But it will at least not be there for one film, for right now. In October 2010, that counts as newsworthy.

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1." Credit: Warner Bros.

 

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