Aug. 19, 2008— -- Fan outrage is boiling online over the delayed release of the next installment in the Harry Potter film franchise.
Potter fan sites MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron are bubbling with dismay and anger about the scheduling move, announced Thursday by Warner Bros. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is now scheduled to hit theaters in July 2009 rather than in November 2008.
"Totally disgusted by WB's decision," wrote a user known as ocean on MuggleNet. "I'm totally convinced that the decision was motivated by money and only money." On Leaky Cauldron, a user known as Savannah wrote: "This is a huge let down (sic). I can't believe that they are moving it back by nearly eight months!"
Potter fans are also airing their grievances on social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube. A Facebook group named The Delay of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Has Ruined My Life is calling for a nationwide boycott of the film on opening day.
Additionally, multiple petitions are rallying fans online and off: One form is picking up steam with nearly 35,000 digital signatures, while a campaign by Dumbledore's Army is urging fans to take up pencil and paper to make their concerns heard.
Some Potterphiles are even planning to protest outside Warner's corporate headquarters in New York, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. says the decision to magically transform the film into a summer release will boost the Half-Blood Prince's box office potential.
"Like every other studio, we are still feeling the repercussions of the writers' strike, which impacted the readiness of scripts for other films," said Alan Horn, president of Warner Bros., in a statement Thursday.
Fox News recently suggested Potter star Daniel Radcliffe's highly anticipated -- and entirely nude -- debut in Broadway play Equus triggered the delay from the studio, which doesn't want the chaste image of the bespectacled wizard tarnished.
The delay is not expected to affect the final two installments in the franchise, which are tentatively slated for release beginning in 2010.