For those who don't already know, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: An IMAX Experience, with its initial fifteen-minutes in 3D, finally gets its nationwide release today. This will be a very interesting weekend for Warner Bros, IMAX, and the movie industry in general. The IMAX release of mainstream films has only been a major deal for five-years or so (the game changer was The Polar Express 3D in November, 2004). But this is the first time in the modern IMAX era that a major studio release has debuted in IMAX after its 35mm release. As I have asked elsewhere, if Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince sees a substantial bump in box office this weekend, or at least if the IMAX effect cushions the weekend-to-weekend drop by a notable degree, could this be the end of same day 35mm/IMAX releases?
Make no mistake, every studio is watching this weekend's results very closely. If delaying the IMAX release of a major tentpole (especially one with IMAX footage or 3D content) can guarantee repeat viewings for said blockbuster, wouldn't the studios have to consider that? If the delay could keep a major movie closer to the top of the box office a little while longer, than that could very well be the status quo in the very near future. Pure speculation, but we'll see how it develops this weekend.