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Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 11/18/2010

The 'Harry Potter' leak: Can it really harm the 'Deathly Hallows' box office performance?

By Jen Chaney

Harry, Ron and Hermione, poised to conquer the box office. (Warner Bros.)
View 'Harry Potter' photo gallery

The leak of the first 36 minutes of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" onto various downloadable sites has prompted Warner Bros. to launch an inquiry into how, exactly, the footage got online.

As the Guardian reports, the studio contends the footage was stolen and posted on the Web illegally and -- with all the conviction of a young wizard attempting to defeat his noseless nemesis -- the studio is determined to get to the bottom of this.

"This constitutes a serious breach of copyright violation and theft of Warner Bros property," the studio said in a statement. "We are working actively to restrict and/or remove copies that may be available. Also, we are vigorously investigating this matter and will prosecute those involved to the full extent of the law."

Presumably this lays to rest the circulating rumors that Warner Bros. leaked the 36 minutes on purpose to get publicity, which seems ridiculous to me.

If there is anything "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" doesn't need more of, it's publicity. I think we're all pretty aware that the final chapter in the movie franchise opens tonight at midnight, despite the fact that the media has completely fallen down on its job to cover this pressing piece of news. (A-HEM. Excuse me. Got an ear wax-flavored Bertie Botts jellybean stuck in my throat for a second.)

Plus, the fans who adore the franchise don't strike me as the sort of people who would even want to see a snippet of the movie via BitTorrent or any other file-sharing service. For the Hogwarts fan community, the "Deathly Hallows" release is just that: a communal experience. To the relief of multiplex owners everywhere, this is one film that many people really want to experience in a theater while eating popcorn that costs (rough estimate) $75 for a jumbo size.

Am I off base here? Did you try to peek at any of the leaked footage? Do you plan to? Or will you see this in a theater, as God and Warner Bros. intended? Cast a vote in this poll or post a comment to share your thoughts.

By Jen Chaney  | November 18, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Movies  | Tags:  Harry Potter  
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Posted by: wadejg | November 18, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh, deity. I think I could count the number of people on one hand who had planned on going to the theater and then decided against it after seeing the leaked footage. I wouldn't be surprised if Warner Bros. leaked it themselves so they could get some free press acting all hot and bothered.

Yes, I'm going.

Posted by: boloboffin1 | November 18, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

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