Warner Brothers has apologised for disappointing fans with its decision to change the release date of 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' from 21 November this year to mid-July 2009.

In a follow-up statement to the initial announcement about the delay, Warner Brothers Chief Operating Officer Alan Horn said: "I am sorry to have disappointed you now, but if you hold on a little longer, I believe it will be worth the wait."

Horn also pointed out that by moving '...Half Blood Prince' to next year, the gap between '...Half Blood Prince' and the next film, the first part of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', which is scheduled to open in November 2010, would be reduced from two years to less than 18 months.

The move means that the film will open on the same weekend as Warner Brothers' recent smash hit 'The Dark Knight', which has broken multiple box-office records, did earlier this year.

In the initial statement announcing the schedule change, Horn told the Associated Press: "The picture is completely, absolutely, 100 percent on schedule, on time. There were no delays. I’ve seen the movie. It is fabulous. We would have been perfectly able to have it out in November."

He added: "Our reasons for shifting ‘...Half-Blood Prince’ to summer are twofold: 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 instalment.

"Additionally, 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. We agreed the best strategy was to move ‘...Half-Blood Prince’ to July, where it perfectly fills the gap for a major tent pole release for mid-summer."

Click here to view the trailer for 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'.

Full text of follow-up statement by Alan Horn of Warner Brothers:

Many of you have written to me to express your disappointment in our moving 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' to Summer 2009.

Please be assured that we share your love for Harry Potter and would certainly never do anything to hurt any of the films. Over the past 10 years, we have nurtured and protected each film, and the integrity of the books upon which they are based, to the best of our ability.

The decision to move 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' was not taken lightly, and was never intended to upset our Harry Potter fans. We know you have built this series into what it is, and we thank you for your ongoing enthusiasm and support.

If I may offer a silver lining: there would have been a two-year gap between 'Half-Blood Prince' and the much-anticipated first part of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', which opens in November 2010.

So although we have to wait a little longer for 'Half-Blood Prince', the wait from that film until 'Deathly Hallows' will be less than 18 months. I am sorry to have disappointed you now, but if you hold on a little longer, I believe it will be worth the wait.

Alan Horn
President, Chief Operating Officer
Warner Bros.