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Next Harry Potter game delayed, just like the movie

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Warner Bros.’ decision to delay the next film in the Harry Potter franchise from November to summer 2009 has already shaken up the fall movie schedule. Now the move is affecting the video game industry.

Electronic Arts said today it would delay the release of its game based on the sixth Potter film, ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,’ a title it expects to bring in $120 million in revenue and 13 cents per share in profit.

Although the decision had been widely expected since Warner Bros. rescheduled the movie in August, EA shares fell 1.2% to $45.94 on a day when the major stock indexes surged.

Originally set to debut Nov. 21, ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ was shifted to July 17 to bolster Warner Bros.’ schedule for the lucrative summer season. The decision came in the wake of the Hollywood writers strike that has prompted studios to reconsider release dates and the strong box-office performance this summer of ‘The Dark Knight,’ which will leave Warner Bros. facing tough revenue comparisons next year.

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Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities, who rates EA a ‘strong buy,’ said the stock market ‘way overreacted’ to today’s news.

‘What’s the difference whether they make that 13 cents a share this year or next year?’ said Pachter, whose company does not perform investment banking business for EA. ‘It’s not like they’re saying it was a badly designed game or there was a major production glitch.’

-- Josh Friedman


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