For a while now, Disney has employed a home video strategy that has paid off in spades. The studio’s “vault” system makes titles available for a short window of time on home video, before they are pulled from stores and kept locked up for years until Disney decides to re-release it to great fanfare and even greater sales. This fall the studio tried a new tactic, a 3D converted theatrical re-release before the home video bow. The result? A nearly $100 million domestic haul for “The Lion King (in 3D)” before it’s latest BluRay bow and a huge wake-up call to the rest of the industry who suddenly realized there is all kinds of money to be made from rehashing beloved tentpole and franchise films.
Clearly seeing what has been going on at the mouse house, Warner Bros. has announced that as of December 29th, all of the “Harry Potter” films and boxsets will no longer be available from your local retailer. What does this mean? Get your Christmas shopping done early (and perhaps buy up what you can to later sell on eBay). And yes, this also applies to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” set to be released on November 11th.
While video outlets who are already suffering under slowing home video sales won’t be pleased, it’s a pretty savvy move on WB’s part. Firstly, most ‘Potter’ fans already have these movies anyway so taken them off the market won’t be too huge of a blow, and if you’re still catching up with the series, the movies will still be available on VOD or from various streaming outlets. And if you were wondering what Warner Bros. planned to do now that the long running franchise is “over,” this pretty much ensures endless future re-releases, probably in 3D, tied around anniversary dates or whatever new format they use in the future. It’s the $12.1 billion franchise (to date; $7 billion box office + $5 billion on home video) that will keep on giving to the WB coffers, with a rabid fanbase who will be there every step of the way. [Variety]