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.


Gary Susman

Comments (72 total) Add your comment
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  • karen b

    I can’t believe people are protesting a release date. OK, I CAN believe it (anything is possible after Chris Crocker), but SERIOUSLY??? If you need a HP fix that bad, re-read the book! I’m surprised this is the first major reshuffle we have seen post-writers strike!!!

  • misty

    Thanks for posting this! It really is starting to annoy me how much people are grumbling about HP HBP being pushed back a little. Yes, it’s a shame but it’s happening now and there’s not much that can be done to stop it. And it’s looking at a wider picture, I don’t like the fans behaving so selfishly to be honest. There are a lot of circumstances involved in the film being moved to next summer, and the studio and industry in general needs to protect itself with the current economic problems. And for those that think it shouldn’t be about the money – this is the film industry – the bottom line is very important, just as it would be in any other business. And another thing, I’m really happy that there won’t be such a huge gap between HBP being released and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 being released. I’m dreading the end of the series – lets not all starting getting up in arms just ebcause we have to wait a few months. It’s the only HP film that has had any delays.

  • Tate

    I SO don’t care…

  • Melinda65

    I was annoyed at the schedule switch for HP–maybe even disgruntled, but I can’t say that I plan to boycott. It’s not as if WB announced that they weren’t going to release the movie at all.

  • Nose

    People need to get a life. I’m excited for HP 6 and Watchmen, but I’m hardly going to protest. What’s the difference between watching Potter in November and next summer? Nothing at all, although you’ll be glad to be out of the sun and in an air-conditioned theatre in the summer. Actually, look at it this way…our time with Harry Potter has an expiration date now, so personally, the longer I can prolong no more books or movies, the better.

  • Richard

    “Because they’ll make more in the summer…as if they don’t already make craploads already.”
    Yes, how dare a business try to maximize its profits.

  • Kathleen

    I think we’re all missing the real issue here, friends. If we’re going to protest, we should protest the remake of Rocky Horror. Can I get a So Say We All?
    (I’m kidding. I think protesting movies is silly [But I’m also totally sickened by the idea of a RHPS remake].)

  • Snarf

    “When Dissapointed Obsessed Nerds Attack” A Fox Family Special.

  • Lili

    I am one of those crazed HBP fans, and I just wanted to say that most of the “nerds” (a title I accept proudly) that I have talked to, do not actually think protesting will make a difference. It’s just a way of venting our disappointment. To top it all off, the fact that we fans ultimately don’t matter is even more frustrating.

  • Danielle

    I realize that the point of a business is to maximize profits, but I also believe in the adage “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” I also realize protesting fans won’t make much of a difference, and as Lili pointed out, that is incredibly frustrating. Some of us like to get out of the cold weather and into a warm theatre and prefer to see our movies in the fall/winter (enjoy the beautiful weather in the summer! Go outside!) It is just incredibly disheartening to think that big movie studios can crap all over their fans and all we can say is “Thank you sir, may I have another?”

  • Megan

    You’re right on, Kathleen. An MTV remake? Unbelievable. I feel the same way about the sequel they’re making to Donnie Darko. What in the world? You’ll ruin it!
    But I digress. You’re absolutely right, Gary. These protests will do nothing and, quite frankly, remind me of the temper tantrums of a spoiled child.

  • mike

    Well there you have it folks, the brilliant Gary Sussman has declared that the power of consumers to influence product producers is officially dead. No more protests against greedy, incompetent, or corrupt corportations people. Gary says it won’t work. And if you don’t agree with that, don’t bother to stop buying the magazine he writes for, because they don’t care about your business. And don’t boycott their sponsors, because they don’t care your business either. You are meaningless bugs leeching off the ass of corporate America and you should be ashmaed of yourselves for even THINKING about putting your money where your mouth is and standing up for your beliefs. Gary laughs at you and DARES you to boycott his sponsors. He thinks you don’t have the guts… you chickens. There, now… Gary has spoken!

  • mike

    Oh yeah, and I just got off the phone with Warner Bros. They agree with Gary 100% They couldn’t care less if you fanboys come to see their movies or not. They said, and I quote, “Fanboys turned their back on Speed Racer and did it damage that franchise even one bit? Of course not. We’re willing to flush $150,000,000 down the tubes… you seriously think we care about your $10 admission? Oh please. Get a life.”

  • Joseph

    Mike, I seriously doubt anyone at WB said “Get a Life” to you about the whole HBP issue.
    The folks that are complaining are just angry that they are being treat this way, as would any fan I think. I also know that all their shouting, calls to the media, threatening boycotts & petitions are not going to change the release date for HBP – so suck it up & deal with it. You know you’ll go & see it opening weekend :).

  • mike

    Joeseph – Uh, maybe my sarcasm wasn’t dripping enough? Obviously, I didn’t really speak to anyone at WB… though it’s cute you thought I did. I agree with you. Folks are angry at how they’re being treated. I’m just a little miffed that Gary seems to be almost celebrating the idea that this corporation is so diverse and powerful that they couldn’t care less about the opinions of the people who consume their product.

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