October 13, 2012
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Mammoth 'Potter' box set is magical
By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency


It is magic time for Muggles. Warner Home Video has created the biggest, boldest and most bloody expensive statement possible on the entire history of Harry Potter.

It is a 31-disc DVD and Blu-ray box set called Harry Potter Wizard's Collection. In addition to 37 hours of bonus materials, it contains all eight movies made from J.K. Rowling's seven novels. And it is magnificent.

The Box has been sitting in my living room for several weeks, taunting, teasing, tantalizing me. Perhaps because the fall chill is in the air, and Halloween is looming, and people are planning Christmas gifts for their loved ones already, I finally got up the gumption to explore it.

The Box looks like a book-inspired treasure chest, the kind of imposing object you might find perched on a table in Professor Albus Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Dumbledore would house some mysterious thing of beauty and significance. Warner Bros. jammed in all of Potter plus some physical collectibles. While The Box is sturdily made from heavy cardboard, it is designed to look leather-bound.

Flip the top open and pull out drawers and swing the sides open to reveal hidden shelves. Each contains one or more novel-sized volumes with thick pages. Each page of the eight volumes has a plastic insert holding one disc, so you do not have to worry about those annoying scratches that cardboard-only sleeves impose. Tiny drawers also pop open to reveal the collectibles.

As for the movies themselves, we already know they generated $7.7 billion in worldwide box office for the eight-movie series from 2001 through 2011. Billions more were earned by previous DVD and Blu-ray releases, digital downloads, toys, collectibles, video games and the Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Florida theme park. In addition, the studio has opened the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, which introduces fans to the Leavesden Film Studios in Herefordshire, where all of the Potter films were based. The backers fixed the ongoing roof leaks, made the real Potter sets safe for the public, added memorabilia and flung open the doors March 31.


Back to The Box. At home you can design your own exhaustive tour of Leavesden, Hogwarts and the Potter mythology. Each movie is presented in both DVD and Blu-ray. If there were extended versions -- as was the case with the first two movies in the series -- those are presented on Blu-ray, along with the option of seeing the original theatrical cut. The DVDs are theatrical cuts only. If the movies were shot in 3D -- as was the case with both Deathly Hallows episodes -- those versions are presented on 3D Blu-ray.

Each title has a ton of extras on Blu-ray, including the eight-part documentary series, Creating the World of Harry Potter. About 32 hours are recycled from earlier DVD and Blu-ray releases. Five hours is added anew. The most effective addition is the doc Growing Up, part eight of Creating the World of Harry Potter.

"We weren't actors," says Emma Watson now of joining the kiddie cast on set in September 2000, for her first scenes with co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. "We were just kids, you know. We didn't know what we were doing and we needed a lot of support and attention and love -- and really found that here!"

Says Radcliffe: "In those 10 years, you do a huge amount of your growing up and it has been amazing doing it here. But it has been slightly odder as well, and I think I've turned out slightly odd as well. But I'm quite pleased with that. I wouldn't want to be 'normal' ... ever!"




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