During The Walt Disney Company’s Annual Shareholder meeting on March 6th, CEO Bob Iger announced that the upcoming Disney digital streaming service, Disney+, will include the entire library in the Disney Vault, bringing a major incentive for Disney fans to purchasing a membership to this new Disney-based service. As the service will include every film from the ‘Disney Vault’, whether it be The Lion King, Aladdin, or One Hundred and One Dalmatians, this latest change not only improves upon the upcoming service but changes the very landscape of home entertainment that Disney has revolutionized for themselves.
The Disney Vault began in the 1980s as a method for the company to gain a strong foothold in the home entertainment market, making their films a rarity on the home entertainment industry. By releasing a film only every few years or just a few times a decade, each release, say a release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, making the newest release an immediate must-purchase for Disney fans, otherwise they risk losing their chance before the film is put back into the Disney Vault for several years more. By doing so, Disney allowed themselves the opportunity to make their films far more valuable, and also while having the opportunity to still leverage the theatrical re-releases of their movies, particularly for those that didn’t own the films on VHS.
The practice of the ‘Disney Vault’ carried over into the DVD-era, with Disney re-releasing a film every few years or several times over the course of a decade, recently with the ‘Walt Disney Signature Collection’. At the moment, while the Disney Vault doesn’t exist in its previous iteration, Disney still removes the opportunity to purchase some films digitally or physically, like Aladdin, which is currently unavailable for purchase through any digital provider, whether it be Movies Anywhere, Google Play or iTunes. Now, with Disney+, it appears that the Disney Vault, after nearly three decades as an integral component of Walt Disney Home Entertainment’s strongest marketing strategies, is finally coming to a conclusion.
It’s too early to tell what this could mean for the future of the home entertainment divisions of The Walt Disney Company. Ultimately, as Disney continues to push more classic movies onto its service from home media and other services like Netflix, it doesn’t quite open as many opportunities for the home media division to grow. After all, why continue buying all of your favorite movies at $20 a piece when you can buy a monthly subscription to all of those movies (and more) for just a few dollars? Additionally, as The Walt Disney Company is the sole owner of Disney+ (even being built in-house by Disney Digital Services, or BAMTech as it was known prior), consumers wouldn’t have to worry about their favorite movies disappearing from the service due to region restrictions or inter-studio contract negotiations, a regular occurrence for Netflix users and third-party Netflix content.
It continuously appears that Disney is in a steep decline in its home entertainment divisions as of late providing fewer bonus features with each release–perhaps in a move hoping to motivate consumers to flock to this new service. It’s too early to tell the impact this could have upon the company and the industry, but we’ll be watching with anticipation as it unfolds.
Changing media landscapes have changed the way that The Walt Disney Company produces and distributes its films, but the company in its mission to be the disruptor, and not the disrupted, is striving to stay ahead of the times by changing that landscape once again, even if that means finally ending one of its longest-running marketing strategies, even if it became a bit purposeless in recent years. There are many more classic movies that we hope will make its way to Disney+ when it launches this year, but we’re excited to see all of these other classics find a permanent home outside of ‘the Disney Vault’ once and for all.
Details on Disney+ will be revealed at April’s Investors Day on April 11th. Stay tuned to The Mickey Mindset as we cover the details revealed for Disney+ over the next few months.