Creator / Walt Disney Home Video

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Walt Disney Home Video (originally Walt Disney Home Entertainment in 1978, it returned to that name in 2001; currently Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) is the home video branch of The Walt Disney Company.

Disney first released its library into the home market through a distribution agreement with MCA DiscoVision to release live-action Disney movies and animated episodes of the anthology series onto LaserDisc. The agreement would expire in December 1981.

In March 1980, Disney would form its own home video arm, a division of Walt Disney Telecommunications And Non Theatrical Company (renamed Buena Vista Home Video in 1987), with Jim Jimirro as its first president. A list of 13 titles were released on the VHS and Betamax magnetic tape formats in March 1980, licensed to Fotomat for rental, with a four-city test (in Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and San Francisco) before a planned nationwide expansion by the end of the year. During the first half of 1981, Disney expanded its reach by having video stores sign up to be "authorized rental dealers".

Rental cassettes were vastly different from sale cassettes. For one thing, rental and sale videos were differentiated through their packaging; rental-only releases were packaged in blue packaging with just the film's title on it, while sale-only releases had white packing and red and yellow bars along a few sides with the WDHV logo (depicting Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice) on the top and a full-color scene from the film on the bottom; these cases also had the Walt Disney Home Video logo without Mickey on the spine and on the inside of the front cover (the early tapes also had an anti-dupilcation/troubleshooting sticker below the Walt Disney Home Video logo engraving inside the front of the case.) Disney would cease its rental services in 1984.

Prior to 1984, Disney's video releases primarily consisted of live-action films and cartoon compilations; the only films from the Disney Animated Canon (aside from three anthology films: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Three Caballeros, and Fun and Fancy Free) available on video were Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland. The Disney management at the time were initially reluctant to release the rest in the Canon anywhere but in theaters out of concern that they would lose their value if they were to be released on tape. However, this was during the Dork Age of the studio that saw the Disney brand being associated with children's fluff and attempts to create Darker and Edgier fare failed miserably at the box office, so the idea to unleash the classics for home use eventually caught on with some if not all of the executives.

The idea for the Walt Disney Classics line came from then-studio head Ron Miller, and subsequently adopted by Michael Eisner after the former was ousted in a boardroom takeover. The first title in the Classics line was Robin Hood, followed by Pinocchio. As a compromise to the more conservative members of the board, both titles were priced at $79.95 (not an uncommon price for pre-recorded videocassettes, but enough to ensure that most people would simply rent the film as opposed to buying a copy), and that they would only be available for a limited time before putting the tapes on moratorium before re-releasing the film to theaters (Disney would eventually abandon the theatrical reissue idea by the early 2000s, with some exceptions).

The price for Pinocchio would eventually be lowered to $29.95, eventually breaking records in the video market, and Disney would subsequently debut New releases in the collection in that range or slightly lower.

Throughout the early 1990s, Disney vowed that their crown jewels, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia, would never be released on video, though they relented (Fantasia was released in 1991, Snow White in 1994 as the first in the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection line).

Towards the end of 1997, Disney began releasing their movies on DVD, starting with Mary Poppins. Within the next couple of years, the studio kicked off their efforts to make the Disney Animated Canon available on the format, beginning with Pinocchio.

In 2004, Disney announced that they became one of the first studios to support the high definition Blu-ray Disc format, poised at the time to enter a format war with (the ultimately short-lived) HD-DVD. They officially started releasing Blu-ray Discs in 2006, with Dinosaur becoming the Canon's first movie sold on BD.

Also in 2006, Disney ventured into releasing their library on non-physical formats, by becoming the first studio to make their movies available to download through iTunes. Seven movies from the Animated Canon apparently share the title of its initial entry sold through them.note  Other digital retailers also eventually obtained distribution rights to their works, and in 2014, Disney launched a website and mobile app especially for downloading and streaming their movies - Disney Movies Anywhere, which launched the same day that the Canon's highest-grossing movie, Frozen, hit digital platforms. Meanwhile, Disney VHS releases (particularly the animated ones) have become collectibles and part of a niche market.

This page is a work in progress!

Master List of All Releases

The Walt Disney Classics and its future incarnations

Other lines

Limited stock lines (the Cartoon Classics: Limited Gold Editions are in the Cartoon Classics page)

Specific programming

In other languages

Alternative Title(s): Walt Disney Telecommunications And Non Theatrical Company

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