This is really, really long. It's intended as a counter point to WB being so vague with their details then asking such a high price.
Here is a Summary: * This Collection contains all of the Ultimate Blu-ray sets plus 8 DVD movies. That's 31 disks total. * The "5 hours of unreleased extra features" are the 2 extra features disks that would be in the Ultimate sets for movie 7 part 1 and 2. Those haven't been released yet so the statement is technically correct. [UPDATE] WB.com lists the new features as being: "The Harry Potters You Never Met" tricks behind the major stunts in the series. Deathly Hallows Part 1 Bonus Disc"Creating the World of Harry Potter, Pt. 7: Story" Deathly Hallows Part 2 Bonus Disc "Creating the World of Harry Potter, Pt. 8: Growing Up" and Extended "A Conversation with JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe" with 15 minutes of new footage
* The first two movies are extended (by 7 and 13 minutes) and the last two come in 3D. Everything else is the standard Blu-ray release of the films. * There is an 8 part documentary created by WB that you can get one part at a time in the Ultimate sets or in it's entirety in this Wizards Collection. That's the bulk of the new extra features. * The box appears to be cardboard. Really cool and fancy cardboard. They are trying to make it collectible by making it a "limited and numbered edition". As far as I can tell, there is nothing offered (the box or the special contents) that actually makes the set a collectible. It says you get a map too, but you can already buy those. * If you REALLY like extra features, little picture books, 3D, and don't own any of the Ultimate sets then you will find the value of this collection to be... Okay. * It's about $50 more than buying all the Ultimate sets individually. * Look at the box sets released in France and you will either want to cry or punch someone when you realize how much better they are. I am not joking. ([...]) * WB states: "Check back to this product detail page for further details." -- [UPDATE] the WBshop just posted the same set with a new picture. It shows and bunch of cards and books and paper things as the collectible memorabilia, but doesn't list it out by in detail. [...]
If you are sitting there with money in hand and want to know what you are getting, read on. The rest of you can probably stop here unless you are a real Potter movie geek. I hate spending money and not knowing what I will get. This review is intended to answer that with a detailed analysis as the title suggests. I might be wrong in some places, but until WB releases more information, this is the best I can offer.
I'll admit, I have been waiting for this set to be released. I bought the Harry Potter 7 book set when all of the books were printed and I intended to do the same thing when all the movies had been released. I do already own the movies. It's a hodge-podge set that inclused mostly DVD's and some Blu-ray that I purchased as each movie came out. There are even a few pre-viewed ones in there from the local video store. I think like most people looking at this set, I already own the movies on DVD.
I don't mind repurchasing them as, like I mentioned, I intended to get a nicely done complete set. The "all 8 movie complete set" released in 2011 didn't cut it though, those were just the movies and I have been waiting for the "ultimate edition box set" with all the extras and extended cuts. If you want all 8 movies on blu-ray, it can be had for $80 right now. The DVD set is $50. You only get 8 discs, just the movies. You won't get any all the extras and no extended editions with those sets. The general consensus when they were released was, "don't bother, there is a better set coming".
The information on the contents of the discs in the ultimate "Wizard's Set" here is sparse, but lets take a closer look. The content description says, "Contains 31 discs, inclusive of all content ever previously released" and I can only assume it is basically the combined box set of all the previous ultimate sets.
(As far as I can tell though, that doesn't mean the Full screen versions, thank goodness.)
I'll break down what was previously released and I think some logical conclusions will arise about what is in this box set. It appears that this compiles all of the Ultimate Edition Blu-ray sets you can currently buy plus some new extra features.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Three-Disc Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray] Disc 1 - BD Movie contains original and extended cut Disc 2 - BD new documentary Part 1: The Magic Begins and extra features Disc 3 - DVD extra features disk from original DVD release Collectibles include: 48-Page Photo Book with rare images from Years 1-7 and 2 Ultimate Edition Character Cards (Card No. 1: Harry Potter, Card No. 2: Minerva McGonogall)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Three-Disc Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray] Disc 1 - BD Movie contains original and extended cut Disc 2 - BD new documentary Part 2: Characters and extra features Disc 3 - DVD extra features disk from original DVD release Disc 4 - digital copy Collectibles include: 48-page hardcover book, Creating the Characters of Harry Potter with rare images from years 1-7 Two in a series of character cards
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Three-Disc Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray] Disc 1 - BD Movie Disc 2 - BD new documentary Part 3: Magical Creatures and extra features Disc 3 - DVD extra features disk from original DVD release COLLECTIBLES: 48-Page Creatures Photo Book with rare images from years 1-7 Year 3 lenticular card Two in a series of character cards: Hermione Granger & Sirius Black
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Ultimate Edition) Disc 1 - BD Movie Disc 2 - BD new documentary Part 4: Sound and Music and extra features Disc 3 - DVD extra features disk from original DVD release COLLECTIBLES: 44-Page Sound & Music Photo Book with rare images from years 1-7 Year 4 lenticular card Two in a series of character cards: Ronald Weasley & Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody Downloadable digital copy
The first two movies have extended versions, though it doesn't sound extrememly notable like the extended LOTR. Sorcerer's Stone gets 7 extra minutes and Chamber of Secrets gets 13 extra minutes.
The last two movies Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 are the only movies with 3-D versions.
From what I have read, the original WB press release on the individual "ultimate" sets claimed that each film was going to get extended cuts, but only Chris Columbus added these. Plans to extend the rest seemed to have been cut due to director interference and budget issues. I wouldn't look for this any time soon (ever?). Which is a shame.
There seems to be an 8-part documentary series called "Creating the World of Harry Potter" that was released one section at a time with each ultimate set. The last two ultimate sets haven't been released. I can only assume the last two parts of the documentary would be in this Wizards Collection.
Unfortunately, unlike the UK release, this does not contain a digital copy. It is an "Ultraviolet Digital Copy". You can find more information on this online, but basically it is a streaming service you sign up for and add the movies to using a code. It requires an internet connection to use.
For extra features, as far as I can tell, movies 1-5 went to DVD first, the Blu-ray versions were introduced years later. The ultimate sets included a new BD with new extra features and then included the original DVD "disc 2" with the old extra features. Starting with movie 6, Half-Blood Prince, the extras were on BD and DVD. However, compare the "2 disc Blu-ray" and "3 disc DVD" sets. The Blu-ray set combined both the old DVD extras and the new BD extras into a single BD disc. That will be important below.
This new box set "Contains 31 discs, inclusive of all content ever previously released, in addition to over 5 hours of never before seen special features. 18 movie discs"
Assuming they release the same discs as were used in the previous ultimate releases: 2 - BD with movie and extended cuts 6 - BD with movie 2 - BD 3-D print for the last two movies Then add: 8 - Original DVD movies = 18 movie discs
Now that leaves 13 discs for the extra features. I count 13 extra features discs in the sets above. That's 8 BD and 5 DVD.
Remember, this new wizard set is boasting "over 5 hours of never before seen special features". That will likely be composed of a few hours of the last two parts of the 8 part documentary series plus something else. I had though the extra 5 hours would just be a new disc for the Wizard Collection. After looking closely at what WB did with the Half-Blood Prince Ultimate 2 disc set, I changed my mind.
It just says "5 hours" of new unreleased special features. The Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 ultimate sets have not been released, but I think they already have the new special features Blu-ray disc produced that would appear in the ultimate sets and just like with movie 6, it would combine all the extras into a single disc. This disc will replace the old BD disc released with the previous Blu-ray sets for movie 7 and would have new material. Namely Parts 7 and 8 of the documentary series they had been releasing. Those two discs together will contain the 5 extra hours of new features in this Wizard Collection. That still adds up to 13 discs so the math works out as well.
[update] WB.com lists this info: (direct quote) Nearly 4 hours of features including: All New! "The Harry Potters You Never Met" - Watch how thrilling stunts from the films were performed, and learn about the tricks behind the major stunts in the series. · Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 Bonus Disc o Over 2 hours of features including: All New! "Creating the World of Harry Potter, Pt. 7: Story" · Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 Bonus Disc o Over 4 hours of features including: All New! "Creating the World of Harry Potter, Pt. 8: Growing Up" and All New! Extended "A Conversation with JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe" with 15 minutes of new footage.
The digital copy won't be on a disc. That appears to be all contained within the Ultraviolet streaming service.
Extras: The ultimate sets already released had a series of small 44-48 page books that coordinated with the part of the extra features documentary released with each movie.
The Wizard Collection information set currently says, "Includes multiple specially-produced, collectable [their typo] memorabilia items, including concept art, a Map of Hogwarts and much more! Check back to this product detail page for further details." [UPDATE] The WBshop posted the same set with a new picture showing the extras. It looks like books, postcards, and other flat printed material. There are no detailed descriptions.
I'll assume that will contain the books. Possibly the cards from the above ultimate sets. Plus a "map of hogwarts" which could really only be a Harry Potter Marauder's Map. But it might not be as large as the ones on amazon and thinkgeek, who knows? warnerbros.com has no Marauder's Map for sale on their site any more, I can only assume they pulled all of their stock because it went to this box set release?
You do get the neat fold-out box to contain everything. As far as I can tell, this is high quality printed cardboard/paperboard. I have two issues with it: 1) you can't get to the movies if there is anything around the box, such as other movies on a shelf. 2) from the pictures, it looks like the drawers are much too wide for the DVD's contained within and I expect to see lots of wasted space.
Having said all that, do I think it is worth the money? Well $350 is a lot for this set. The $500 list price is a joke, it is set that high so they can mark it down.
WB has previsouly released some of these movies over a dozen times in different forms and I think 99% of the people looking at this set already have some or all of the movies, probably the early ones on DVD. Unlike when Star Wars was released on Blu-ray, all of these have already been out on Blue-ray and in 3D and the two extended editions can be found individually. There needs to be enough new value to make the set worth it.
If I wanted to buy all 6 of the ultimate sets plus the two 4 disc with 3-D sets of movie 7 that I linked at above, right now today (March 2, 2012) from Amazon, it would cost me $312. They range from $35-$50 a set. If the last two 3D versions dropped in price from about $50 to $35 to match the rest of them, then you are looking at about $280. Used sets and shopping around might lower that more. This could be even cheaper if you don't want 3D, and a lot of people don't judging on 3D TV sales.
That $312 is almost the price of this ultimate wizards set. The wizards set adds value with the fancy storage box, the 5 hours of new extra features, and a map (plus possibly something they haven't announced).
If you just want the movies, you can get all 8 for $80 on Blu-ray or $50 on DVD.
If you just want the extended movies, you can buy the ultimate sets of movies 1 and 2 for less than $40 each.
The digital copies (ultraviolet streaming service) are a joke and I don't consider them to be adding any value at all.
The lack of extended versions really hurts the value of this box set in my mind. The only real added value are the new BD extra features and the fancy box.
If you really like extra features, I am going to have to say that despite the really high price, it is about the same as buying all the ultimate sets up individually and might be worth the money. The Ultimate sets and Wizards Collection will have 8 BD worth of extra features not seen on the 2 disc DVD and BD releases (assuming they release the ultimate sets for the last two movies). However, I am not seeing a lot of value added over what I already own. I have the last two movies in Blu-Ray and could get the first 6 ultimate sets for $210 and be pretty happy. I would only be missing out on 5 hours of extra features, a box, the map, and 3D version of the last two movies. I would be paying $140 less than the current pre-order price for this Wizard Set.
If you don't like extras, but want Blu-Ray, you can get those movies for $80 and if you have all of the 2 disc DVD collections you will have 20 of the 31 discs contained in this set.
At $350 for the Wizard set, you are paying $43 for each ultimate set. Or to put that another way, if you could find each ultimate set for $35 and bought 8 of them, you would be paying the extra $70 for the fancy box and map contained in this Wizard Collection.
Realistically, if this new wizards set was around $250 I would consider it a good value (that would be like getting each ultimate set for $31 and a free extra storage box). Box sets like these are generally expected to have some bulk savings over buying everything individually, but I think WB is looking to create a collectors item and raise the price, even though the contents don't warrant that treatment. To make it a real collectors item, there needs to be something here besides the cardboard storage box that you can't get anywhere else. In the current announcement, there isn't.
At the $350 price I am more wary about the purchase. At $500 I wouldn't even consider the purchase. Even though I waited to buy this set, I don't know if I will. Perhaps a more detailed official announcement with details making it sound like an actual collectible item will sway my decision.
One last thing. They really could have made the box nicer. I don't mean that as wishful thinking. Check out what was ALREADY released in France (for about $250 USD). Both of these, even now, can be found second hand for around $500USD plus import shipping.
A wooden box with a drawer on front to hold the movies (no folding out sides) and a stand for holding the Elder wand (included). Also all 8 films in Blu-ray and 3 bonus discs. This set is classy and I really wish I could have one.
Intégrale Harry Potter 11 Blu-ray - Edition limitée spécifique Amazon.fr [...] This one has Hogwarts Castle resin hand painted with plexiglass cover and a nice wooden drawer containing all 6 of the ultimate edition Blu-ray sets underneath.
Coffret Intégrale Harry Potter 1 à 6 - Edition Prestige limitée Château de Poudlard [Blu-ray] [...] If they had made a nice heirloom box like these, even if the wand stand didn't come with a wand (you can buy the Harry Potter Official Collector's Wand - The Elder Wand for about $25) I could see A LOT more value in the sets and it would be a real nice collectible way to store the movies.