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Midnight marks witching hour ‘Harry Potter’

The Associated Press
Friday May 24, 2002

LOS ANGELES — If you want to be among the first to own “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” you need to get to the store at an appropriate hour: midnight. 

The official domestic release date of the first “Harry Potter” film on videotape and DVD is Tuesday. Stores around the country plan to stay open late Monday night so they can start ringing up sales at midnight for last year’s top-grossing movie. 

Wal-Mart, Borders, Blockbuster, Kmart and other retailers plan to have select stores open late. Die-hard fans also turned out at midnight at bookstores for the release of the most recent book in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” and for midnight screenings of the film when it opened last fall. 

Some stores plan activities based on the tales of the boy sorcerer and his adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including costume parties and Harry Potter look-alike contests. 

Warner Bros. home video would not release figures on how many videos are being shipped, but the studio said pre-orders have been strong. The trade publication Video Business estimated “Sorcerer’s Stone” would sell 18 million to 20 million copies on VHS and DVD in North America. 

In Great Britain, where “Harry Potter” videos were released May 11, a record 1.25 million copies on videotape and DVD were sold in the first day. 

The film grossed $317 million domestically, ranking No. 7 on the all-time box-office list. Worldwide, “Sorcerer’s Stone” took in $960 million, second behind “Titanic.” 

The VHS and two-disc DVD set each contain a handful of deleted scenes. The DVD set also has games, a tour of Hogwarts and interviews with director Chris Columbus and his collaborators, who discuss their emphasis on remaining faithful to Rowling’s book and give a look ahead at the next film, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” due in theaters this November.