Harry Potter and the Strangely Half Assed Anniversary Edition  

On October 29th Warner Brothers UK re-released Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone back into UK cinemas. This included regular screens and 4DX venues. There’s not much to say regarding the film. It’s the regular theatrical edition as seen in 2001. The 152-minute cut still has the power to capture the magic and adventure of JK Rowling’s original text better than some of the decidedly moodier sequels. This writer just wanted to offer a quick word of warning regarding this release. The anniversary framing might suggest the film has been remastered for a new theatrical presentation. It has not. This viewer ( and die-hard fan) saw the new reissue on a regular screen. It’s the same 2K master ( with digitised original BBFC certificate card) as this viewer saw when Philosopher’s Stone had its 4DX premiere in 2019. Unfortunately, the picture quality on a regular screen was blurry and in bad need of a proper restoration. The audio was fine. There’s no greater joy in cinema (from this watchers perspective) than Hearings Theme blasting out on a decent set of cinema speakers. Along with the standard digital print that has been doing the rerelease rounds for years a title card flashed up before the film. This was advertising some anniversary bonus content after the credits. This reviewer thought that might be a newly commissioned mini-retrospective documentary. Or a cut-down version of one of the Creating the World documentaries that have existed on various home media releases since 2009. Instead, the bonus content amounted to a preview of the new Picture in Picture track produced for the new 20th anniversary Blu Ray release. Conceptually this might sound alright to some viewers until you realise that the footage playing along with the picture in picture track is from the movie audiences had just finished watching less than two minutes earlier. It doesn’t matter if Chris Columbus is now in the corner of the screen providing trivia tidbits. Warner Brothers UK is making audiences re-watch footage they just saw under the guise of an anniversary re-release. This writer never thought he would see anything that would make Disney’s Avengers Endgame theatrical re-release look good. At least In that case the two components of the roughly 7 minutes of additional footage were exclusive to that edition of the movie. Avatar’s theatrical re-release was the premiere for the special edition cut of the film. Even if viewers believe that JK Rowling’s opinions belong in the dustbin of cancellation there is a swath of pre-existing behind the scenes and retrospective material. The chance to produce some variety of pro-shot showcase for the Studio Tour at Leavesden (a really good showcase of large scale filmmaking regardless of thoughts on the franchise.) Warner Brothers could have pulled from any of this in creating non-picture in picture material for the anniversary. Not to mention extended TV cuts of the first two films that could have been given theatrical premieres. Instead, we have this bizarre scenario. Warner Brothers intend to celebrate the anniversary of one of its most lucrative IP by doing an anniversary re-release in which audiences who go and see the theatrical edition have to watch a section of the same footage twice as a means of celebrating the series legacy. As a massive Potterhead eager to support new material within the world this was rather disappointing. This writers advice to fans would be to avoid this reissue if possible. Invest in one of the many physical media editions packed to the gills with extra features. Hopefully, Warner Brothers will get the message. This franchise deserves more in terms of honouring its impact and legacy than a half-assed picture in picture edition

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