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Can Harry Potter Follow His Own First Act?

17 Nov, 2002 By: Kurt Indvik

As I write this Monday morning column Friday afternoon the buzz is already building for another successful Harry Potter theatrical opening. As early reviewers stated, and as the first theatergoers (who stood in lines to catch the first screenings at midnight) attested, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a better movie than its predecessor. I am sure my 11-year-old daughter will soon drag me to one of the 3,682 theaters that were set to open the film Friday on some 8,500 screens, a larger opening than Harry's first theatrical run.

Whether the better film (I hear it's a little edgier, a little darker and with more action) and more screens translates into Chamber of Secrets besting Sorcerer's Stone's opening weekend of some $90 million will be known maybe by the time you read this. Early handicapping says probably not, but word-of-mouth on the quality of the film may serve to attract an even broader audience and keep the film's momentum going perhaps even past Sorcerer's Stone's domestic take of $317.6 million.

Curious that with the pre-promotion of the new Potter film we didn't see or hear much about any significant Potter tie-in promotions on the home video retail or rentail front. Warner Home Video didn't execute any significant re-promotion of the Sorcerer's Stone video. This is the sort of thing one might have certainly expected not too long ago. I suspect, however, that, firstly, Sorcerer's Stone was a huge sellthrough title and thus a second wave of purchases and rentals on the back of the new theatrical release may not have been reasonably expected. Secondly, last week alone saw two other huge fantasy films hit video shelves with Star Wars Episode II and the extended edition of Lord of the Rings, and these, certainly, would have crimped the style of any pretheatrical Harry promotion of the Sorcerer's Stone.

The fact of the matter is, this is going to be a very, very busy fourth quarter for home video, perhaps the busiest ever, we'll have to see. With so much big product coming out, retailers are gong to have to be juggling promotions quickly to maximize sales and rentals of the newest hits to arrive at retail and consumers will have more than they ever have had to choose from in home video.

Still, video retailers can be sure that come next spring, Harry Potter will fuel yet another period of video mania at stores and the train – or joyride – to Hogwarts will just keep chugging along for the next several years.

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