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<I>Chamber</I> Yields Its Secrets April 11

23 Jan, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf


Warner Home Video unlocks even more magic from the world of Harry Potter -- especially for DVD fans -- with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, due April 11 (prebook March 4) on VHS ($24.99) and special edition DVD ($29.95).

Warner SVP of marketing Mike Saksa said the studio tried to “raise the bar” with Chamber's DVD extras and said Warner has its eye on folks who may have missed the film in theaters with the nearly six-week earlier release over last year's Harry Potter video offering.

“We are approaching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets differently than we approached Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,” Saksa said. “It's a little bit more adventurous, a little bit more exciting and appealing to an older kid more than the first film.”

The second film in the Harry Potter series earned $258 million in theaters, a bit behind Sorcerer's Stone, which conjured up $318 million.

“We think the big opportunity for Chamber is with those who did not choose to go to the box office, whether they just missed it when it was in theaters or made conscious decisions to wait for the video,” Saksa said.

The studio is giving Chamber of Secrets a Friday street date to add that little bit of oomph and hit the fans right when they are ready to spend -- on the weekend, he said.

“Saturday is the highest purchase day for video,” Saksa said. “With these large destination titles we are able to treat it like a theatrical release, which benefits the retailer because we're spending more and we're spending it when people are in the store.”

The multimillion-dollar marketing blitz that's come to be expected from the franchise -- with national print, broadcast TV, online, radio, in-theater and outdoor advertising -- will back the Chamber of Secrets video release.

And look for Hermione to become a bigger part of promotions for the series, Saksa said.

“Everyone's always been crazy about Daniel [Radcliffe, who plays Potter], but our research is seeing a strong appeal for the Hermione character,” Saksa said. “Older girls see her as more of a heroine, so one aspect of our campaign will be to focus on Hermione to capture the attention of girls 8-16.”

Warner's DVD approach to the second release in a fantasy franchise that will yield at least five feature films, should appease some of the Sorcerer's Stone DVD detractors, said Bill Hunt, editor of DVD Web site Thedigitalbits.com.

“That last disc was very disappointing to a lot of DVD fans, what we heard from readers who e-mailed us about the first disc, though I'm sure from a kid perspective, it was very satisfying,” Hunt said. “[For example,] to access the deleted scenes on the [Sorcerer's Stone] disc you had to go through all these games every time you wanted to watch them and I think a lot of people just didn't bother,” he added.

The Chamber disc, offers 19 additional/extended scenes, featuring more of Dobby the house elf, more of the Weasley's flying car, and a scene featuring Harry's encounter with the Malfoys in Knockturn Alley. Hunt said these will appeal to the broad demographic of fans who love both the films and the best-selling book series upon which the films are based. “Deleted scenes are right up the alley for film fans,” Hunt said.

Another major draw on the disc will be the exclusive interview with author J.K. Rowling herself, he added.

“That was a big criticism of the Sorcerer's Stone DVD, that Rowling had no presence on the disc, especially when you consider the fact that she took three years to write the next book because she was so involved in the movies,” Hunt said.

Saksa said Rowling was very involved with the DVD content for Chamber and that her interview should help sate the appetite of voracious fans who won't get another movie version until 2004. The fifth book installment hits stores June 21.

“J.K. hasn't really been exposed to the press as much, at least in the U.S.,” Saksa said. “This is an exclusive and you really get her perspective not only on the movie but the book and the property itself.”

Also included is an interview with Chamber of Secrets and Sorcerer's Stone screenwriter Stephen Cloves, who worked closely with Rowling on both films' adaptations.

Saksa added that the slightly older skew of the second film's appeal made it a good time to include interviews with the teenage cast on the DVD.

“ We still don't feel that a commentary would do this film justice. We let the feature speak for itself, Saksa said. “We would rather have [fans] listening to the character actors talking about their experience making the film.”

For fans of DVD-ROM features, Saksa mentioned enhanced “One Voice” technology that will allow users to interact more fully inside the gamelike ROM features, which Warner dubs “experiences.” There are 15 Chamber DVD-ROM features, including an animated Hogwarts timeline, printable magic trading cards, puzzles and matching challenges.

DVD-ROM features are interesting, but limitedly so, Hunt said. It's mostly the kids who enjoy or even approach these types of features, which is why they are usually themed for kids.

“There is an audience there, but it's a small one,” Hunt said.

Other non-DVD-ROM features include self-guided tours of the locations in the movie, set-top adventures inside the Forbidden Forest and the Chamber itself, and a deeper look at Professor Lockhart's picture gallery.

“All in all we think that with this DVD we have raised the bar and we are delivering to consumers a full Harry Potter experience and we are expecting the same level of sales as Sorcerer's Stone if not better,” Saksa said.


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