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Last ‘Potter’ to be split in half

Warner to make two films from final 'Harry'

Warner Bros. will split the last “Harry Potter” tome into a two-part film, with the installments unspooling six months apart.

David Yates will direct and Steve Kloves will write both parts, which will be filmed concurrently.

Part one of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” will bow in November 2010, with the second to debut the following May.

The unusual “Kill Bill” strategy solves a thorny problem for the studio, which had been wrestling with a way to adapt J.K. Rowling’s hefty tome and successfully conclude its lucrative franchise, which has generated $4.5 billion at the worldwide B.O. It’s not yet clear exactly how studio will split the 784-page book, however.

Warner Bros. prexy Alan Horn and Jeff Robinov, prexy of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, are expected to discuss their plans for “Deathly Hallows” during the studio’s ShoWest presentation at 2:45 p.m. today.

“Deathly Hallows,” the seventh in the series, is weighty in more ways than one: The boy wizard and his pals battle archnemesis Voldemort to the death. Tome sold a record 11 million copies during the first 24 hours after it hit bookshelves last July.

The sixth movie in the franchise, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” debuts on the bigscreen in November. It is also being directed by Yates, who helmed the fifth installment, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Kloves has also been a steady presence for the franchise; he will have written seven of the eight adaptations, having missed only “Order of the Phoenix.”

David Heyman has served as producer on the entire series, which last year surpassed James Bond as the top-grossing film franchise (Daily Variety, Sept. 11). Franchise has also proved lucrative on DVD and in other ancillary markets; among other ventures, Warner and Universal have partnered on a theme park attraction devoted to “Potter.”

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