On November 12th, Disney will finally debut their first foray into the streaming battles with the arrival of Disney+. With the low-cost of $6.99 a month ($69.99 a year), or an exciting bundle that will include Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for the low cost of $12.99 a month–less than a month’s worth of Netflix–Disney+ is certainly going to make its impact on the entertainment industry and change streaming forever. Furthermore, Disney+ has always made its impact on The Walt Disney Company as a whole, influencing some of the most recognizable elements of the company, and one that is scrambling to close out its relevance before Disney+ hits this fall: We’re speaking of course, about the Disney Vault, which is releasing its very last installments before the streaming platform arrives and deems it irrelevant.
To be realistic, the ‘Disney Vault’ model has been dead for quite some time now, ever since the easy access to entertainment opened up endless possibilities. In the late 1980s, the Disney Vault began as a brilliant marketing campaign under the Michael Eisner era of the Walt Disney Company as a method to control supply and demand with their films. The campaign would release a beloved Disney classic in stores on VHS, but only for a limited time. Should a fan miss out on the opportunity to purchase that VHS before time ran out, they would miss out on the opportunity for several years at a time, as the film would return once again to the ‘Disney Vault’ until the time came for a new release. In the digital streaming era, in addition to simple easy access to purchasing films like Amazon or eBay, the Disney Vault hasn’t had true relevance in quite some time. Despite this, the concept continued to live on until today, where it seems it will likely fizzle into complete obscurity.
Between June 2019 and October 2019, the ongoing ‘Walt Disney Signature Collection’ will re-release four films on Blu-Ray, with Cinderella, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians, seemingly in an effort to get these films out before the arrival of Disney+. While it is easy to find previous versions of these movies online, the concept of re-releasing these Disney films has been a sustainable business model for Walt Disney Home Entertainment for several decades alongside several new bonus features to accompany them. When Disney+ arrives, it will include the entire core Disney film library, in addition to bonus features. The incentive to purchase a physical copy of your favorite Disney movie will no longer exist: there will be no contract issues, no international streaming complications or otherwise. It’s still a bit too early to predict what the landscape for physical media will look like after each studio launches its own streaming platform, but within Disney circles, it seems the model that Disney fans have been familiar with for so long has come to a conclusion.
What lies in store for the future of Disney entertainment once the platform arrives? Disney+ will include the near-entire animated library, including Disney-Pixar films, all the Star Wars films, and a selection of Marvel titles. Elsewhere, the platform will include a long list of original content, including a live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian. With that in mind, all theatrical films release by Disney will gain exclusive streaming rights by Disney+ and with the exciting bonus features that will already be hosted on the platform, it’s hard to see why anyone would buy a Blu-Ray copy of their favorite films if it is already hosted on Disney’s platform. With the creation of a new innovative project, Disney put an overdue finish to one of their longest-running concepts.