Oh what joys the world of DVD and Blu-ray have brought to our lives! There’s nothing quite like a good chunk of special features accompanying your new film (preferably on it’s own disc thank you very much – don’t skimp on the extras now!)
So who better to serve up a steaming pile of behind the scenes goodness than the world’s most successful movie franchise, Harry Potter? (Star Wars fans sheath your lightsabers! The figures say it all – though yes, Harry did get a few more films which undoubtedly tipped the scales).
Yet surprisingly, despite the millions of Harry-lovers eagerly anticipating each DVD release, the fans went disappointed for years.
The first HP film, The Philosophers Stone, was originally released in crummy Pan Scan (4:3 aspect ratio rather than 16:9) and served up only a few special features to wet our appetite but not satisfy. Chamber of Secrets was the same. Though Warner Brothers heeded our uproar and at least released the dvd in widescreen, the behind the scenes content was limited to trailers, a few cut scenes and some incredibly disappointing tiny TV Spots. Humph.
You could hear the die-hard fans cry: “What are you doing to us David Heyman?” (HP Producer for those of you out of the loop) You are running a multi-billion dollar franchise. You shot the first film with three cameras running on every take (one for each of our pint-sized leads) yet you couldn’t spare one measly camera for some behind the scenes stuff?
This disappointment continued for nine years, right through to the sixth film. Though the special features content grew slightly in quantity, it had little substance. HP fans were left crying to the heavens “whhhhyyyyyyyyy?”
Yet at the end of 2009 their prayers were answered when finally WB announced the release of their Ultimate Edition Harry Potter DVDs (and Blu Ray). These new editions promised hours of juicy special features in a special, shiny box complete with accompanying photobook and character cards. It also promised an 8 hour long in-depth documentary ‘Creating the World of Harry Potter’ which would take us inside to explore the series from conception right though to execution.
Praise the lord!
Released steadily since 2009, The Ultimate DVDs one through six have proven to be most entertaining. We have explored how the book was realised onto screen, how the franchise morphed from magical kiddy romp to dark adult fantasy, we have watched several Directors come and go and guzzled down cute audition footage and mountains of behind the scenes fun. Yet here our supply has dried up.
We still await the release of the final two Ultimate Editions and no rumours of dates are to be found…and with Warner Brothers halting the supply of HP DVDs to retailers at the end of last year, fans are getting nervous they may have a long wait.
We already face difficulty getting our hands on the Ultimate Edition here in Aus. While the DVDs carry an affordable pricetag of $30 – $40 in America, in Australia we have to fork out a crazy $90 for new Region 4 editions, and they need to be purchased via online sources as they are stocked on few store shelves.
Bummer for those who don’t have mutli-region DVD players; it’s actually cheaper to buy it in the UK or the US and have it shipped over.
Confusingly in Australia they have also released Collectors Edition DVDs which offer the same special content as the Ultimate Editions, yet without the fancy box and merchandise. These are a more affordable option with a retail anywhere between $20 – $30 online.
These Collectors Editions do not appear to be on offer in the US (though with a family-friendly pricetag on the Ultimates they clearly don’t need them) why go cheap on Down-Under Warner Brothers? Why not make the Ultimates affordable for us too?
Ultimate Edition or Collectors Edition, either way Harry’s fans are still sat waiting in anticipation for parts 7 and 8…. We’ve got two more hours left of our epic documentary Warner Brothers – Do hurry up won’t you?