The final Harry Potter movie only just came out a year or so ago, so it's entirely you've been waiting until all the films were out on DVD before buying them in one go. And if you really, really want to be a Harry Potter completist, there's great news: Harry Potter: The Wizard's Collection is an utterly insane 31-disc set that will make sure everybody in your life knows that you're completely obsessed with The Boy Who Lived.
We received a free review copy of the Wizards Collection, which retails for around $500 (or $350 on Amazon), and we're happy to report that it's a truly massive, impressive piece of shwag. If you have a small apartment, you may be left wondering where to put it, because the actual box is ginormous. And you may actually want to show it off. There are a ton of drawers and things that fold out and little compartments, and you can easily kill a few hours just poking at the box and looking at all the little things that you find, in addition to rewatching the eight Potter films.
In a nutshell, each film is available on Blu-ray and DVD, and then there's a bonus Blu-ray disc with one set of special features for each film — which is basically a "Making the World of Harry Potter" documentary divided into eight parts. There's also one extra bonus disc, just for the box set, which includes a new featurette, "The Harry Potters You Never Met," about the making of the stunts in each of the films.
The only complaint I've heard about all this is that these aren't the extended versions of the films, except for the first one. Apparently extended cuts of films 2-8 have been broadcast on television, but aren't available on DVD or Blu-ray yet.
The design of the giant box is really clever and ornate — check out a fascinating video at left from the two graphic designers who created it, who had also worked on designing props and labels in the films. There's a lot of clever little touches that go into the box set, and a lot of the individual bits of packaging are really neat. It almost reminds me of one of McSweeney's recent issues, except much bigger and even fancier.
So besides the discs, I'm not sure if I've found everything that's inside the box. Part of the fun is pulling it apart and digging through all the drawers and semi-hidden compartments.
There are a couple of tiny drawers, containing respectively a scroll (for digital downloads of the films) and a nice Slytherin locket. There's also a lovely booklet showing all the tons of labels the designers created for various products in the Harry Potter universe — many of which are really gorgeous, and I only wish those labels could be peeled off and stuck on things. There's a great collection of art cards showing Stuart Craig's concept sketches of locations in the Potterverse. There are a collection of gorgeous art prints showing one significant moment from each film, a blueprint for the Hogwarts grounds, and a cloth flag illustrating the Hogwarts grounds. And a few other odds and ends, including a Certificate of Authenticity. Check out some nice photos of some of the lovely stuff over at Snitch Seeker.
All in all, it's a pretty ornate piece of business, and would make a really splendid present for someone you really, really like a lot. And if you don't have all the Potter movies yet, or really want to have them in the most opulent possible packaging, then this is a great way to own them in a beautiful setting. You can seriously kill a weekend looking at all the art and the featurettes, even without actually rewatching all the films. (At left: my attempt at an unboxing video.)
On the other hand, if a $500 suggested retail price is too steep for you, hang in there — Warner Bros. has promised a more affordable collection of all eight films is coming once the 63,000-copy limited edition runs out.