Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Jaap Buitendijk/Waner Bros. Entertainment

He may have passed his O.W.L. exams, but Harry Potter is being held back.

Despite the recent Internet premiere of a certain highly anticipated trailer, Warner Bros. has announced that it's bumping the release date of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to next summer.

The film, originally slated to unspool Nov. 21, won't be bewitching us until July 17, 2009.

Not that the shakeup should give Hogwarts fans any reason to worry that this latest installment in the billion-dollar franchise isn't up to snuff—studio heads say this is purely an economic decision, based on the fact that Potter No. 6 is so darn magical.

"Our reasons for shifting Half-Blood Prince to summer are twofold," Warner Bros. president Alan Horn said Thursday. "We know the summer season is an ideal window for a family tent pole release, as proven by the success of our last Harry Potter film, which is the second-highest grossing film in the franchise, behind only the first installment."

Horn also admitted that even He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named wasn't immune to the industry-wide discomfort wrought by the writers' strike.

"Like every other studio, we are still feeling the repercussions of the writers' strike, which impacted the readiness of scripts for other films—changing the competitive landscape for 2009 and offering new windows of opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of."

Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group president Jeff Robinov also made a fine point: There will now be less of a wait between the sixth and seventh (and eighth) Potter films.The studio is eyeing respective summer releases in 2010 and 2011 for the two-part Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The sixth book (and film) in J.K. Rowling's hit series focuses mainly on Harry and Dumbledore's search for the remaining horcruxes where Lord Voldemort has stashed his soul.

As the recently released trailer shows, a lot of the action will take place in flashbacks, featuring Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Ralph Fiennes' nephew, as a young Damien-chanenling Tom Riddle, who, as we all know, grew up to be the baddest wizard on the block.

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