Memo to protesting 'Watchmen' and 'Harry Potter' fans: It just doesn't matter
Dear outraged Watchmen and Harry Potter fans,
I feel your pain. You’re upset that Warner Bros. has pushed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince‘s release back to next July, and that Fox’s lawsuit against Warner Bros. over the film rights to Watchmen has threatened that film’s timely release next spring. (Some of you think these events are related, that Warners moved Half-Blood Prince because it anticipated Watchmen‘s legal problems and needed a backup blockbuster. You could be right.) Yep, delays suck. But your proposed retaliation tactics — a Hollywood-wide movie boycott over Potter (see video above) or sabotage and piracy of Fox projects like Wolverine — aren’t going to have any effect.
Fans, Hollywood welcomes your support, but it’s not worried about your wrath. Even if you get massive numbers of people to join the cause (and you won’t, because everyone wants to see Harry Potter and Watchmen and Wolverine, and most people will go on opening weekend or watch soon after when the movies are released on DVD), all you’d be doing is taking a bite out of the ever-shrinking slice of profit pie that is the domestic box office. In the case of Potter and Wolverine, you’re talking about billion-dollar franchises, with worldwide revenue streams from cinemas, TV, DVD, publishing, and merchandise, of which the next Hogwarts and X-Men movies’ domestic ticket sales are just a drop in the bucket. You’re spitting in the wind.
If it’s any consolation, I believe that Fox, no matter what the studio says now about preferring to suppress Watchmen and receive no profits, will ultimately decide that a percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing, and I believe (as my colleague Jeff Jensen does), that the movie will come out even if Warners has to pay Fox a settlement. I also believe that, by the time Half-Blood Prince comes out next summer, much of the current grumbling will be forgotten. With any luck, the movie will be great (as will Watchmen and Wolverine), and we’ll all have moved on to some other controversy.