Matrix to Replace Harry Potter in 2003?

Wow, this report came as a bit of a shock. But if it goes through, it’ll be really cool. This could mean two Matrix films in the same year. It’ll be a Matrix year, capped off with “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” as an excellent closer. This is a great time for movies!

Here’s the story:

With “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” opening this holiday season, it has shown that it will be a difficult task for the next two holiday seasons, when movie studios will have to find slots before and in-between to release their movies. This year, “Monsters Inc” and “Ocean’s Eleven” was able to avoid both films.

Variety spoke with Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. distribution president, and he reveals that in 2003, the third “Harry Potter” may be pushed until 2004 to allow room for the third “Matrix” to open. Currently, “The Matrix Reloaded” is being eyed for a May 2003 release, with “The Matrix Revolutions” opening in December of 2003. also reported on this, stating the Month of November, and NOT December. This is important as it the month that Potter may come out in every year, possibly:

Warner Bros. is in the unique position of having to set distribution dates for guaranteed moneymakers in way that won’t hurt their own product.

As previously reported, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS is scheduled to hit theater screens on November 15th, 2002. Now, though, we may see the third film, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, in November, 2004, rather than the expected 2003.

The reason for this is twofold. First, third films in a series usually don’t do as well as sequels, though someone could argue that HARRY POTTER might be immune to that. And second, Warner Bros, may be looking to place another of their anticipated big bread earners in POTTER 3’s slot.

Warner Bros. is currently pondering releasing the MATRIX sequels, THE MATRIX RELOADED and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, in May and November 2003, respectively. As a result, POTTER 3 may get pushed back a year.

Adding even further to the studio’s dilemma is that their New Line division has the LORD OF THE RINGS films locked in for December releases for 2002 and 2003. Warner is looking to avoid their properties getting swamped at the theaters by their own films.

You can bet any other studio would just love to have this problem to deal with.

And reports on just who is planning this:

Variety reports that Warner Bros. & New Line are quickly taking up profitable box office spots with its two massive franchises, “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings”. The two have already had an impact on next November and December, and possibly the 2003 holidays.

New Line’s “Rings” trilogy has long been scheduled for three consecutive Christmases. Warner Bros. has claimed next Nov. 15 for its “Harry Potter” follow-up, which just started lensing. The issue for 2002 and perhaps 2003 is whether other contenders will be able to find profitable slots, as “Monsters, Inc.” and possibly this weekend’s champ, “Ocean’s Eleven” already have.

Complicating matters further, Warner Bros. may throw a third heavyweight franchise into the mix: The studio is mulling a provocative alternate route for 2003, which would offer only six months in between its upcoming “Matrix” installments. The studio’s distribution president, Dan Fellman says he hopes to launch the second and third “Matrix” pictures in May and November and push the third “Potter” into 2004.