In a move that would make Walt Disney cheer from his cryochamber, Warner Bros has announced they will halt all shipments of the Harry Potter films starting December 29th. Existing copies will be allowed to sell out, but once they’re gone the eight films will no longer be available for sale.
Per Deadline Azkaban, WB is taking a page from the Disney playbook and pulling all eight films from circulation on that date. It doesn’t appear that they’ll actually remove unsold product from store shelves but instead will just stop shipping new orders.
What’s interesting is that the final film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, doesn’t hit shelves until November 11th, meaning it will only be available for six weeks before the moratorium starts. Obviously WB will flood stores with copies of the title, so no one should worry about not finding it for sale, but this window of availability is incredibly small for such a major title.
Like Disney has done repeatedly with their animated titles, WB is hoping to increase demand for the franchise by decreasing the supply. My guess is next November will see a marketing blitz announcing special editions, box sets, and more available for a limited time only. There’s little chance this will backfire for the studio, but will it actually increase sales? Is the draw of the series the same as it is for classic Disney films like Dumbo and The Lion King? We’ll all find out next holiday season…