Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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 […]

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Culture Warrior

That the final Harry Potter film became the biggest opening weekend of all time seemed only natural and inevitable. Something so monumentally culturally pervasive could have only gone out with a loud bang. After all, it is – as I’ve been repeatedly reminded – the most successful movie franchise of all time, adapted from a series of books whose sales history rivals that of The Holy Bible. Yet unlike some head scratch-inducing huge opening weekends of the more uninspired entries of blockbusting franchises who rival Harry Potter in their monetary intake but not their longevity (Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) and the former reigning champ whose buzz was accompanied by fascination with the untimely death of a star (The Dark Knight), the mass participation in the cultural event that was the release of Deathly Hallows Part 2 won’t likely be rivaled anytime soon. The Harry Potter films simultaneously represent the inevitable logical extent of franchise filmmaking as much as it is exceptional and anomalous in this same regard.

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