Warners Will Be Placing HARRY POTTER Films On Moratorium

Disney has found a lot of success with the way it treats certain of its classic animated films on home video. By making titles like Snow White and Cinderella available only for a small time every seven years or so, they drive demand for the product during the time that the film is available before they go back on moratorium in the “Disney Vault.”

Warner Brothers is looking to steal a page from Disney’s playbook by announcing that as of December 29, all of the films in the Harry Potter franchise will go on moratorium for the foreseeable future. Here’s the short press release from Warner Brothers –

Burbank, CA – October 24, 2011 – Harry Potter, the #1 motion picture franchise of all time, will soon disappear from shelves, as Warner Bros. stops shipping all Harry Potter theatrical film titles (including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ – Part 2, and Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection) as of December 29, 2011 (moratorium does not include digital – Electronic Sell-Through & VOD – or games). The Harry Potter franchise has grossed more than $12.1 billion for Warner Bros. Entertainment – with $7 billion at the worldwide box office for Warner Bros. Pictures and $5.1 billion for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Please note how this works. As the press release states,  on December 29, Warners will no longer fill orders to stores for new Harry Potter DVD and blu-ray product. Stores will still be able to sell the discs that they have in stock until they run out. Warners will not be sending armed goons out to remove by force any unsold units off the shelf at that time.

The news comes with just a few weeks before the release of the franchise’s finale Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 on DVD and Blu-ray on November 11. You can bet that this moratorium announcement will be a major driving part of the advertisement for the Deathly Hallows Part 2 disc.

The upshot of this will be to create a high demand for all the titles as we head into the holiday shopping season, which will be a short term windfall for the retailers and the studio. And with only a seven week window of availability, Deathly Hallows, Part Two will be the title in the highest demand. We can look for for the Harry Potter titles to rule the sales charts for the next few months.

In the long term I think we can look forward to Warners doing a re-release of the films in a few years with just a few new things added onto the discs in order to entice fans into double-dipping and buying them again. But such a move might create more ill will from Potter fans than the studio may be anticipating. Warners is counting that the same reasoning that Disney counts on to furl their moratorium program, that every seven years or so is a new generation of audience for their classic animated films, will hold true for the Potter films. And have not yet seen proof that the Potter phenomenon is one that will be generational.


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About Rich Drees 6943 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture.
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