With Warner Brothers betting big on their Chris Columbus-directed Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, tentatively set for November 16, 2001, merchandisers are lining up behind the movie with an enormous blitz.  The best-selling series -- three books are out so far, and four more are planned-- has been published in 115 countries and in 28 languages. More than 18.4 million books have been sold in the United States alone. Hasbro and Mattel appear to be the big winners, with official Harry Potter merchandise already appearing exclusively in Warner Brothers Stores.  But numerous other manufacturers are getting into the act.  The floodgates burst late last year with the release of  journals, licensed apparel, ceramic and pewter figures, calendars, posters, and scores of other items.


Warner Brothers is taking steps to ensure the long-term vitality of the property by enlisting the services of a New York-based marketing agency to develop a brand strategy for the property, as well as the unprecedented step of remaining true to the characters and the spirit of the books.  Author J.K. Rowling is consulting.  'I am nervous because I'm fighting tooth and nail to maintain the purity of the world, trying to make sure that when things go out with Harry Potter on them, they really are Harry Potter things.'  Warner Brothers hopes to extend the franchise to a half-hour animated program, a theme park, stage shows, interactive games, and music tie-ins.  Warner forecasts 'a minimum' of $1 billion in worldwide sales from items tied to the first film.


Wizards of the Coast will be releasing a Harry Potter card game sometime in December or January.  It is rumored to be a wizard dueling game where two players create decks and battle to become the 'master wizard'. It is said to be geared for ages 12 and up.