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Andrew: Because we're questioning why we even bought the DVDs, this is MuggleCast Episode 241 for October 16th, 2011.
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Eric: This episode of MuggleCast is brought to you by Audible.com, the Internet's leading provider of audiobooks, with more than 75,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including fiction, non-fiction, and periodicals. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast. That's AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast.
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Andrew: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode 241! Eric, Micah, and I are here this week to fill you in on the latest Harry Potter news. Hello gentlemen!
Micah: Hello. [laughs]
Andrew: What's with the uncertainty?
Eric: No, I'm trying to think of what words I can say without using the left side of my face. I went to the dentist earlier today. I'm still a little numb.
Eric: So, if I sound funny, it's that. [laughs]
Andrew: Oh. No, you sound all right so far. Are you missing teeth now?
Eric: No, no, no.
Andrew: Or did you get new teeth?
Eric: Yeah, I'm in good shape. The people down at Webster Dental in Chicago took good care of me today.
Andrew: [in a silly voice] Oh my God, shut up!
Eric: [laughs] I checked in there on Foursquare now, too.
Micah: And I was just waiting for Eric to go first...
Andrew: I see.
Micah: ...and say hello. That's why I...
Eric: He's so polite, Micah. He gets in line just to say hello.
Andrew: [laughs] Well, from Hypable, I'm Andrew Sims.
Eric: From MuggleNet, I'm Eric.
Micah: And I'm just Micah Tannenbaum.
Andrew: Okay. No, you're not. You have a plug later in the show!
Eric: No MSNBC anymore?
Micah: Oh, yeah, yeah. No. Let's do that again. [laughs]
Andrew: No, you blew it now.
Micah: Oh, yeah, we'll talk about it later.
Eric: You're no longer affiliated with them.
Andrew: [laughs] All right, what's in the news this week, Micah?
Micah: Well, Andrew, this may come as a surprise, but Warner Bros. is not done releasing box sets of the Harry Potter films. There's going to be more in 2012, and apparently Harry Potter is not going back into that vault.
Micah: That mysterious vault that we heard about, never to be touched from - [laughs] never to be touched from?
Andrew: Never to be opened...
Micah: Never to be touched or heard from again. But that's not true. They always open up the vault every once in a while.
Micah: At least...
Micah: Go ahead.
Eric: Last week we were talking at length about these box sets - or on the last episode, we talked about these box sets they have planned for the November 11th release date, and we talked about them I think a good twenty minutes at least, right? I mean, we were talking about some of the features and the DVD and how this set - how there are always going to - I think Andrew correctly predicted there were going to be more.
Andrew: Yeah, and I mean, we know they do this. Warner Bros. does this all the time. But a little correction to what you said, Micah, I don't think this really counts as "going in the vault." I think what they were saying when the films were going to go in the vault is they were going to stop production of the individual copies, and presumably the big collections, too. Yeah, so they'll cease production some specific date at the end of December. It's after Christmas. And then they're going to presumably not make any new copies of anything, I guess, until later in the year when they [in a dramatic voice] open the vault to release the super mega awesome edition.
Eric: Now, this awesome edition...
Andrew: Just in time for the holidays, 2012.
Micah: Well, here's the exact wording from Warner Bros. They said:
"Hardcore 'Potter' fans will be pleased to know that 2011 is not the end of the 'Harry Potter' film franchise on DVD and Blu-ray. Warner Home Video plans to release a comprehensive 'Harry Potter' film collection, with even more extras and collectible premiums in 2012. More details about the collection will be available at a later date."
Eric: Okay, hold the phone. Why would they announce that there was going to be this comprehensive set of Harry Potter films coming in 2012, before they release this upcoming collector's set full of repackaged junk, as we deduced on the last MuggleCast? Why would they announce this new upcoming set, just even tentatively like they have, kind of, "Oh yeah, it's coming"?
Eric: Why advertise that it's going to have all these new special features, when you have another set to promote that's coming out November 11th? Is there any remaining incentive for people out there who are listening to our show to buy these November 11th box sets of all eight films?
Andrew: Yeah, if somebody wants them for Christmas this year. I mean, that's the one reason.
Andrew: And plus, I mean, people are impatient. They want the complete set now. They don't want to wait until next year to get the complete set. So, I think Warner Bros. was a little strange for announcing this now, but I don't think they are worried about it affecting sales. And by the way, this press release was really hard to come by. I e-mailed it to Warner Bros. and was like, "Is this true?" and they were like, "You know, I haven't seen this before. Let me look into it." And then I never heard back, so I don't - it may have been mistakenly said. So, I don't know what exactly went on. But anyway...
Micah: Well - interesting. I mean, I'm just going through the comments here on MuggleNet, and twixie09 says:
"I hate how they're withholding content from the true fans, making us spend more money just to get another interview or a couple more deleted scenes. We, the hardcore fans, have supported 'Harry Potter' through thick and thin, and have supported it two hundred percent throughout the film franchise, and they're treating us like this. If it weren't for us, they wouldn't have made as much money as they did across..."
Okay, it goes on.
Micah: Next comment, DudleyCool:
"I find this hilarious. Glad I never bought any of the Ultimate Editions. This collection had better have the extended versions of all the films including the three-hour Order of the Phoenix. At least give us all the unreleased deleted scenes and bloopers WB has been hoarding since 2001!"
Micah: So, you're seeing a lot of comments here that are similar to what we were talking about on the last show when we had no knowledge about this. We were just talking about this eight-film collection. So, clearly the fans in the comments are starting to get a little bit ticked off.
Eric: Yeah. I mean, the way I'm looking at this, unless you've lost your previous collections - I mean, if you want to - unless you've lost your previous DVDs in a house fire or something, and need a new collection and you're entertaining guests and you want to do a Harry Potter re-watch - like Andrew said, prior to Christmas or something, then I can see making this eight collection, because it's just one cool package. But otherwise - and I know what I will be doing, is I will be waiting until this unknown release date in 2012 to get this new box set with the special features. It just seems like you have to be two steps ahead of these people. You have to wait, somehow deliberately...
Micah: But you will get the Part 2 DVD/Blu-ray so you can watch it before that, or no?
Eric: It's - maybe. I want to see the Dan Radcliffe, Jo Rowling thing. I might wait to see if that's online, and if not, I will get the Part 8 Blu-ray - or Movie 8 Blu-ray.
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Andrew: What else is going on?
Micah: Well, as long as we're on the topic of DVDs and Blu-rays, the Harry Potter Ultimate Edition DVDs Years 1 to 6 that have already been released here in the US are finally going to make their way over to the UK on November 14th, and again, it's just - we talked a little bit about this on the show last week with Part 2 coming out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK on December 2nd, but why were the Ultimate Editions never made available in the UK before now?
Andrew: I don't know, it's always been a question amongst the UK fans. My guess is that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is based over here and so maybe they didn't see as much demand for it over in the UK. That's my best guess. Maybe they just wanted to wait to release all of them at the same time once they were in the UK. Maybe they consider the Ultimate Editions very much an experiment.
Micah: That's a good point.
Eric: Yeah, it could be a situation where maybe, too, the UK - the board of film or whoever it is that oversees this kind of stuff wouldn't let them just re-package old content until very recently. Maybe they had to pay them off and...
Micah: Now is there any difference in terms of - let's say, somebody from the UK decided that they wanted to buy the Ultimate Edition and have it shipped over.
Micah: They're not going to have any issue, are they, or they will?
Eric: They are. The difference - it's PAL versus NTSC, which is what I - the issue that I went through trying to get Philosopher's Stone on DVD was that I went to Amazon.co.uk, this was early, early on, maybe 2003-ish, and I got it and I paid twenty - the equivalent of twenty pounds or whatever it was. So, I actually - [laughs] long story short, I ended up buying a multi-region DVD player to play that DVD, just for that DVD.
Andrew: That's hardcore.
Eric: I don't have any other PAL DVDs.
Eric: Just because I wanted the title sequence.
Micah: That is hardcore.
Eric: Just because I wanted the title sequence, when he's a little baby and the scar, then it leads into "Philosopher's Stone," but I wanted to see if it was any different and so...
Micah: So hard for the British, it's just really not fair.
Andrew: Well, we are the superior country, so...
Andrew: ...they have to work around us.
Micah: Please send your e-mails to...
Andrew: Just kidding.
Micah: ...Andrew at Hypable dot com.
Andrew: [laughs] All right, what else is going on in the news?
Micah: Lot of the news, really this week, has been around the studio tour, or as - wait, I have to cue this: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter.
Micah: Because we want to make sure that we stick by the corporate...
Micah: ...official title of the studio and...
Andrew: Yeah, you don't want to confuse people.
Micah: No, we don't want lawsuits or anything like that. But yeah, a lot of news surrounding - really the last couple of weeks with the studio tour. They got an official opening date of March 31st, 2012, and a lot of promotion had been going on with the studio tour. There was a live web chat for the on-sale date of tickets on October 13th - so just this past week - and it was a very interactive chat, specific for the fans and the fan sites to be able to ask questions via Twitter. A lot of the fan sites were represented and got their questions in there as well, and it was a cool chat to watch. It was Tom Felton, Mark Williams, Julie Walters, James and Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Warwick Davis, and Natalia Tena, and they seemed to be having a pretty good time. We've seen some video surface over the last 24 to 48 hours with different stars going through and taking a tour, and Mark Williams really seems to be having a good time.
Micah: I saw him sitting down in Dumbledore's chair, he was paging through all these letters. But I think fans are really going to like it. The attention to detail that's been put into all these sets is something that you're only going to get to experience by walking through, and I know that both of our sites - Richard was over for Hypable and Nick was over for MuggleNet, they got a chance to tour and both of their reports are available on the respective sites. And you really get a deeper insight into how much time and care went into creating the studio tour.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, it's going to be really cool. It's going to be an amazing experience. I mean, who doesn't want to go to the actual sets and explore these things? And you kind of got that with the exhibition, you kind of got that with the Wizarding World, but this is it. I mean, I think they've saved the best for last, in terms of - I mean, you really can't compare it to the theme park, but I think this is the ultimate Harry Potter fan experience, if you ask me.
Micah: Yeah, I don't think that there's any question because you're walking literally where the actors did when they were filming all of these scenes, and in the chat they were all joking around, "Yeah, you might see me hanging out at the back of the studio, or maybe I'll dress up as a tour guide one day..."
Andrew: Yeah, if they pay them.
Micah: "...and lead you around." [laughs] Yeah.
Andrew: It looks...
Micah: ...it does seem...
Andrew: I think - I like everything that's been out about it so far, all the reports and stuff, but it's getting a little too much.
Eric: You think so? Like they're revealing...
Andrew: All this promo.
Eric: ...too much?
Andrew: Yeah, it's time to keep quiet for a little bit. Let the tickets sell, sit back for a little bit, relax.
Eric: Yeah. I haven't been watching, mostly because I don't want to get spoiled on the off chance that I wake up one morning in London and I have a ticket to this thing.
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Eric: Because they sold out like crazy and I always plan for those sorts of random happenstance.
Eric: But anyway, the way I thought of it - because I watched the trailer, it was the one thing I did see. Maybe - I think it was the actual trailer, maybe it was just the teaser, but essentially, the impression that I got was that these are things that - set pieces, props, that were too big to move. That's why they aren't in the exhibition that's traveling, opening in Australia in a couple of weeks, is because things like the Great Hall, the actual, actual Great Hall have been at Leavesden for these years, and that's going to be part of the studio tour. And the one piece that I saw in this trailer that I really, really enjoy, was the door, the entrance, to the Chamber of Secrets with the snakes. You may remember this, it's from the second movie. I don't even think they show it. Maybe they show it for half a second in Part 2 of Deathly Hallows. But where the snakes - basically, they're locked in the door, they retreat a little bit, and then one snake comes completely around the door, and so apparently this is like actual mechanics here...
Eric: ...because they show it in this trailer, and they show the snake going around the door. I want to know how they did that.
Eric: I need to see this prop in person.
Micah: Well, they show the guy flicking the switch, don't they?
Andrew: Yeah, it's just a mechanical - but I see what Eric is saying, and I mean, that's what's going to be so fun about the studio tour, is you really are going to get not just a look at the sets and be able to walk on the sets, you're going to see how all the stuff worked. So, that will be really exciting for people to see.
Eric: And because - isn't it a journey through props department as well, and things like makeup and stuff?
Andrew: Yeah, I bet - I would hope so.
Micah: And you're getting it the same way that the actors did. This is one of the things that they emphasized, is they didn't remove sort of the scaffoldings, they didn't remove the lighting, they didn't remove really anything. You're getting to see what it would be like if you were actually in that scene filming it, except you don't have a bunch of other people standing around you, but you get the feel as if you're actually on set. It's not - so to make sense of that, it's not like the exhibition where you walk through and everything is kind of dressed up so that it fits in with a theme. This is literally like walking through a set that's being filmed on.
Eric: Right. Like fiberglass, plywood...
Micah: Exactly, yep.
Eric: ...where the camera ends, and I know a lot of these sets are like this, just from reading Andrew's past reports, too. Where the camera ends, so too does the set. There's only - on certain sets there's just planking and scaffolding and stuff where you wouldn't expect it, and that's going to be the appeal, I think, of seeing these sets as they actually were, because honestly, there's a lot more acting being done in these films than I think we would normally notice, simply because Hogwarts [laughs] doesn't really exist. It's these sets with scaffolding.
Micah: Mhm. But tickets are on sale, so go pre-book.
Eric: I thought they sold out?
Micah: They sold out of the allotment that went on sale earlier.
Andrew: The fan sale.
Eric: Okay, because now I'm confused. When was...
Andrew: There was a fan pre-sale, but it was open to anyone who followed the studio tour on Twitter or Facebook, and they sold out of that allotment of tickets. It could've been ten tickets for all we know. We have no idea how big this allotment was. But anyway, they sold out and then they did a whole big, "We're sold out! We're sold out! We're so in demand!" and then the other tickets - then the tickets opened for everyone recently. So, they're open now. You can get them, probably, for almost any day that you want.
Micah: And what did they say, it's about a three-hour tour and they're looking to get about five thousand people through every day?
Andrew: I mean, that seems like a big number. I can't imagine five thousand people going there every day, but they may have been exaggerating. Anyway, what else is going on?
Micah: Okay. Well, let's talk about our favorite website, Pottermore.
Eric: [laughs] It's my homepage.
Micah: Well, a little bit of an update: Charlie Redmayne, who previously worked at HarperCollins, has been named the new CEO of Pottermore, and according to Neil Blair, who is the Pottermore Chairman, he described Charlie Redmayne as, "a formidable talent in both the digital and publishing spheres, and this combined with his entrepreneurial spirit made him the ideal appointment for this role." Now, I don't really know much about the staff at Pottermore other than, of course, Melissa, but is this a move being made because there are some serious problems going on at Pottermore?
Andrew: Well, Pottermore has always had, apparently - I didn't really know this - an interim CEO.
Andrew: They never really appointed a long-term CEO, so I don't think this has anything to do with the issues, but I mean, I think this could be - I'm glad it's happening now because everybody knows that there needs to be some changes with Pottermore. We've talked about them all so we won't do it again, and hopefully this guy will step in and - he has a lot of experience in the digital realm, by the way. He used to head HarperCollins, one of their digital imprints, I believe, and I hope he gets in there and starts kicking some butt, and being like, "Hey, this is what we need to do. Boom, boom, boom." I mean, having some fresh blood in there could be really helpful.
Eric: Yeah. Yeah, the interesting thing about this news article for me was that I never thought of Pottermore as being just a company that would appoint a CEO.
Andrew: Right, right, right. [laughs]
Eric: Oh, Pottermore, Inc.?
Andrew: Yeah. Wait, Pottermore has a CEO? Did JKRowling.com have a CEO? I'm so confused.
Eric: [laughs] Now I'm just confused. But yeah, it's - like you say, change is good, right?
Andrew: Yeah. And I started - I didn't finish, but I'm writing an open letter to the Pottermore CEO, kind of as a joke, but kind of serious, that I'm going to post on Hypable, and it's basically just running down the changes that need to be done. And I know he's not going to actually read it, but I know people will talk about it because it is a good time to start thinking about, "Okay, so what does Pottermore need to do to change? Now they have this new guy in command, what should he do?"
Eric: Yeah, it's kind of like, "Welcome, but also here's what you need to do." [laughs]
Micah: He's being thrown into the fire, essentially.
Micah: I mean, with everything that's been going on with Pottermore - and like you said, not to spend too much time on it - there's a lot that needs to be fixed before the site does go live to the general public...
Micah: ...and I hope, as was said here in this post, that he is the right person for the next phase of this project.
Eric: To shepherd the next phase, yeah.
Micah: So - all right. Well, speaking of corporate slogans - I don't know if we were really talking about corporate slogans, but Rupert Grint is going to join the cast and crew down in Orlando for - Andrew, what is the official title of this event now? The Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration.
Andrew: That's right.
Andrew: That's right.
Micah: [laughs] Where there will be PowerPoint presentations inside the Three Broomsticks and...
Andrew: [laughs] Quarterly earnings reports.
Andrew: Wonderful. Well, it's funny how I came across it. I was going on there to look up something and I went on the home page of what used to be called "A Celebration of the Harry Potter Films," and I just noticed that the title had been changed to this very bland "Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration." I'm like, "What? What is this?" So, I click on "Frequently Asked Questions" and the top question is:
"Is 'Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration' the same event as 'A Celebration of the Harry Potter Films'?"
Andrew: And Universal's official answer is:
"Yes, the two events are the same. The title of the event has become 'Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration' to commemorate the Blu-ray/DVD release of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2'."
So, it's just - our issue with it is just the name. "Home Entertainment Celebration" is just so corporate and bland, and I don't see why "A Celebration of the Harry Potter Films" was a bad name.
Eric: Do you think it was because it's so exclusive that not everybody can get in. I mean, this is something that - still, it just seems like it would be hard to attend this sort of thing, so maybe they're making it more corporate to look good on press videos and stuff.
Andrew: Yeah, maybe. I mean, this just seems to me they really want to push that Harry Potter is now all about home entertainment. It's no longer about the movie theater, it's you being entertained in your home. I guess that's what they're thinking.
Micah: And this is a huge event. I mean, let's talk about this for a little bit.
Andrew: It's a Harry Potter conference, practically.
Micah: Yeah, they're doing this down in Orlando at the theme park and they have a ton of cast that are expected to be there. We just mentioned Rupert Grint but also James and Oliver Phelps, Warwick Davis, Evanna Lynch, Mark Williams, David Bradley who plays Argus Filch, and Jessie Cave who plays Lavender Brown, and there's more to come. And it's just amazing that - this is like when they had the Part 1 DVD being released and they kind of combined it with the exhibition opening here in New York City. They made this huge deal.
Eric: You're right!
Micah: And they had tons of cast and crew that were here. I mean, it seems like they're doing the same thing, and I guess it's just because, okay, this is the last movie, this is the last, essentially, Blu-ray and DVD. Let's blow this thing out.
Eric: You're right. Remember those panels of, like, 23 actors going and sitting in New York City. That's crazy.
Andrew: I think it's also maybe a test to see how well - if this thing goes well, I can almost see them doing this every year, or at least Universal doing something every year. This event coming up is very much a team effort between Universal and Warner Bros. but I can see them doing this every year as like a - kind of like these Harry Potter conferences: LeakyCon, Infinitus, all these ones over the years. They may have looked at those and been like, "Well, wait a second, why don't we just do this?" [laughs]
Eric: In our own park, yeah.
Eric: On our own - yeah.
Andrew: And they can actually get the stars there and...
Micah: Well, I mean, who doesn't want to leave cold and rainy England to go to sunny Florida in the middle of November?
Andrew: Are you talking about the stars, or...
Andrew: That's true.
Eric: Well, I wondered, too...
Andrew: So, it's easy to get them over there.
Micah: They probably get paid to do it, so...
Eric: I wonder if it was in their contract, though, as part of their obligation to promote the film, because I wonder now if the studio is looking at home video as being this market that needs more money thrown at it, and needs more attention to actually selling and promoting these films on home video as opposed to seeing them in theaters. I wonder if that's sort of also potentially why they're doing this, is to promote - because I mean, they renamed the event, "Harry Potter comes out on Blu-ray." That's the new title it plays, so you really kind of wonder what their goal is in terms of - I mean, they just want people to know that, that it's out on home video for some reason.
Micah: Mhm. And it's going to be a huge event. Those actors that we mentioned are just a handful of those who are expected to be there. So again, this is just a - to me, it seems like a little bit overkill.
Andrew: What's overkill?
Micah: This kind of an event...
Micah: ...for releasing a DVD or Blu-ray.
Andrew: Well, yeah. I mean, like you said, they want to have a blowout. It's the last one, so it all ends here. All right.
Andrew: So, is that...
Andrew: ...all the news?
Micah: That's it.
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