This being Harry Potter's (and author JK Rowling's) birthday, it's not surprising that Warner Bros would choose today to make an announcement regarding the Harry Potter films. But no one had any idea just how HUGE the announcement would be. I'm not talking huge in the sense of impact, but in actual physical size. This thing is massive! All 8 movies on 31 discs in DVD, Blu-Ray, and Ultraviolet formats. It looks like a piece of luggage you'd try to cram into the overhead compartment on the Hogwarts Express, with sliding shelves and drawers, hidden compartments, castle blueprints, concept art, photographs, a label collection book, the Harry Potter Catalogue of Artefacts, a cloth map of Hogwarts, and a reproduction of the Slytherin Horcrux locket. All told, this set, limited to 63,000 copies, looks amazing and looks like a fan's dream come true. Or is it? Take a look at the debut video, hosted by some of the stars of the Harry Potter series, and then scroll down a bit for a few first impressions.
Looks great, right? I knew something like this was coming (just not how it would be presented), so I either got rid of my old DVD copies or didn’t buy them at all when they were released. This kind of thing was always something I was going to purchase. I’ve been planning this for YEARS!
That said, is this set really worth it to the ultimate Harry Potter geeks? Here are a few things to consider…
- $350. Yes, THREE-HUNDRED-AND-FIFTY DOLLARS! That’s the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. At least that’s what it’s going for on Amazon right now. I suspect it will drop eventually. If not, that’s an incredible barrier for someone wanting to pick up what they assume is the ultimate Harry Potter movie collection (pssst… it’s technically not).
- More than half of these 31 discs are useless, depending on what format you’re currently using. If you haven’t upgraded to Blu-Ray yet, they’re useless. Those slow to make the Blu-Ray upgrade will find that by the time they do, Blu-Ray will already be a thing of the past, as it’s already a dying medium. If you already have Blu-Ray, then you’ve got a collection of DVD shaped coasters that cost about a nickel each (or much less) to produce. Is the packaging with the books, maps, and locket worth the $200 markup over the cost of a DVD or Blu-Ray set? From a collector’s standpoint… maybe. I’m still split on that. If the price drops by at least $100 by the time it hits shelves on Sept 7th, I will consider it again.
- The Ultraviolet copies of the films are not true physical digital copies. They’re codes to unlock digital streaming versions to Ultraviolet enabled devices. As I said earlier, Blu-Ray is already a dying medium. And studios are flailing to lock down the next logical option, which will undoubtedly be completely digital, but they’re not sure how to push it to the masses without opening themselves up to piracy. As internet bandwidths improve and people purchase televisions that can adequately display these streaming versions of the films (I don’t know anyone who actually watches a full length feature on their phones or tablets), people might choose to move this direction, but I’m not yet convinced. The infrastructure isn’t yet ready to handle a mass influx of users when you throw in the non-enthusiast and common consumers (your mom and anyone over 50 with the actual money to pay for such services as compared to the ones who understand it but can’t afford it yet). Sure, geeks might have the tools to watch streaming versions of Harry Potter movies, but these items will mostly go untouched by 75% of the purchasers until the technology becomes more common and affordable. Still, I think that digital streaming will be taking a more one-price-gets-all Spotify route in the years to come, but I could be wrong.
- There’s already a bit of fuss over the latter movies not getting the Ultimate treatment in this set, even though the extras associated with each appear to be present. However, people are complaining that the set apparently doesn’t contain Ultimate versions of the last two films that comprise the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows storyline. While there are lots of deleted scenes and other parts that could be introduced back into the film, I’m thinking that Warner Bros considered the addition of the “Creating the World of Harry Potter” behind the scenes series to be the bit that “Ultimi-fied” (my word) each of the previous entries. In this case, we get part 7 and 8 on the Deathly Hallows 1 and 2 discs, thereby giving them the Ultimate treatment the fans want.
- However, fans seem to want more movie. With the Order of the Phoenix being the longest book and the shortest movie, everyone’s convinced that director David Yates has left loads of scenes on the cutting room floor that would fill in all the cracks of the theatrical release. Same goes for both parts of the Deathly Hallows. But more isn’t necessarily better. Sure, maybe the lost house elves subplot you always wished for might be cool to see, but will they really improve the flow and storytelling in the film? I’d watch the films either way, but “extended edition” isn’t always a good idea. So while I don’t need extended versions of the films, I would appreciate an exhaustive list of special behind-the-scenes featurettes from every era of the series. One thing is for sure, fans can’t get enough of anything Harry Potter!
Will you be shelling out the money for this incredible collection? And if not, what’s holding you back? The price, the content, or did you already buy all of the movies already, not realizing this was coming? Knowing that studios always bundle everything into a big box set is the reason why I don’t yet own any of the Breaking Bad seasons on DVD or Blu-Ray, even though it’s my favorite show. I’m pretty sure that when they release the complete series box set, it will come with a mobile meth lab on wheels. Get a distribution partner, and it’s the DVD collection that pays for itself!
The true value of the Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection, however, remains to be seen…