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No 'Potter' secrets on DVD

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Warner Home Video doesn't want Muggles to know the secrets behind the movie magic of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. So don't look for any audio commentaries or "how the film was made" featurettes on the double-disc DVD ($27) that recently arrived in stores in both full-screen and wide-screen editions. A VHS version also is available for $25.

"We wanted to set this DVD apart by keeping it in the world of Harry, knowing that it is a disc appealing to younger viewers," says Paul Hemstreet, vice president of special features/DVD for Warner Home Video. So while it is loaded with extras, they aren't the kind that DVD fans are most accustomed to seeing.

For those, fans will have to wait for a second DVD issue, release date unknown.

Director Chris Columbus, already busy on the second film in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, due for release this fall, "has expressed a desire at some point to go back and do commentary," Hemstreet says, and Warner Home Video has massive amounts of behind-the-scenes footage shot during the production of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone last year in England.

"Every day was documented," Hemstreet says. "We had crew there. There is a tremendous amount of information that could be used, but we didn't want to cross that line at this point and show the wires."

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, based on J.K. Rowling's phenomenally successful novel, stars Daniel Radcliffe as the orphan boy who learns on his 11th birthday that his late parents were powerful wizards and that he has inherited their magical powers. The film raked in more than $320 million in U.S. ticket sales and grossed about $200 million after its first week of North American rentals and sales, according to Warner Home Video.

The first disc of the DVD is the movie; the second comprises a series of interactive features that ultimately enable viewers to access deleted scenes. (The VHS also includes the excised scenes.) Among the DVD's other features:

An interactive tour of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including the Great Hall, Harry's bedroom and the Gryffindor Common Room.

A visit to the classrooms of professors Snape, McGonagall and Flitwick.

Interviews with Columbus and producer David Heyman.

A visit to Diagon Alley that enables viewers access to Gringott's Bank, Ollivander's Wands and Eeylops Owl Emporium.

A lesson in Quidditch, played on flying brooms.

"It seemed natural to have a tour of Hogwarts," Hemstreet says. "These incredible sets are really built at 360 degrees, and the detail was incredible. We wanted to convey that and show it in a fun way."

There are more features if the DVD is played on a computer. There, thanks to One Voice Technologies, the One Voice option on the DVD-ROM gives viewers the opportunity to navigate the extras by speaking directly into a computer's microphone. The commands are available in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.

Susan King writes for The Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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