Warner Bros. hopes to encourage sales with disc decision

Warner Bros. is putting the “Harry Potter” franchise back in the vault.

The studio plans to stop producing and shipping DVDs and Blu-rays of all of the “Harry Potter” films to retailers Dec. 29 to encourage consumers to snatch up the discs before they’re no longer available.

WB has initiated what it calls “moratoriums” on select high-profile titles over the past seven years, beginning with “The Wizard of Oz.” Other titles that have been held from shelves include “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Camelot,” “Lethal Weapon,”

“Casablanca,” “The Exorcist,” “Doctor Zhivago,” “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” with the films then relaunched to celebrate milestone anniversaries.

In 2001, Disney began making homevid releases of its more popular titles, especially animated classics like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Bambi,” “Fantasia” and “The Lion King,” available for a limited amount of time, before putting the films “back in the vault” for several years until their next re-release on disc. Disney’s vaulted films are unavailable to purchase or rent from legitimate retailers.

“Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition” and “Fantasia/Fantasia 2000: Special Edition” were put into the vault this year after about a year or more in stores.

The strategy was the homevid equivalent of re-releasing the films in theaters for brief runs.

The discs WB will shelve include “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2″ and “Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection,” both out Nov. 11.

The franchise has grossed more than $12.1 billion for WB since 2001. That includes $7 billion at the global B.O. for Warner Bros. Pictures and $5.1 billion for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

The series is being inducted into the Variety Home Entertainment Hall of Fame on Dec. 5, making it the first franchise ever inducted into the Hall of Fame for its record-setting sales and creative innovation.

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