In a startling move by Warner Bros., the studio will no longer ship DVDs of the eight “Harry Potter” films after the current stock sells out, Deadline Hollywood reported yesterday.
Their announcement included some gaudy sales figures:
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.
Although the “Harry Potter” video games will still be available, this at first glance might seem like a company leaving massive amounts of money on the table. However, this strategy has been used in the past — in theory, the rarer your product, the higher its value rises, and such scarcity would then allow Warner Bros. to make an event of rereleases down the road.
There’s just one big problem: the Internet.
Back before video-on-demand and web streaming, home video was the only way to view movies. Availability could be tightly controlled. But Warner Bros. has already said they don’t plan on pulling the films from electronic sell-through and video-on-demand.
Meanwhile, the last few years have seen a marked trend, indicated by Google search terms and overall sales, in the direction of these services at the expense of DVDs. And despite Netflix’s recent troubles, the streaming model looks to be a good one for the future.
Chances are, the balance between streaming and DVDs will only grow further toward the former as the years go by, decreasing the profitability of “Harry Potter” rollouts. In fact, it might be smarter to milk as much money from the DVDs as possible right now, while the medium is still a moneymaker.
Either way, don’t think that “Harry Potter” will become anything less than ubiquitous. And if you’re dying for a physical copy of the films, there’s always eBay, where resellers will certainly be taking advantage of this move. Too bad Warner Bros. doesn’t get a cut of that.
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