The Disney Lockdown

Disney - Happy Birthday Walt! (Explored)
Image by Express Monorail via Flickr

By Katie O’Neil
Staff Writer

The “Disney Vault” has been around pretty much since Disney began.

If you don’t know what the Disney Vault is, it simply is a figurative way of taking older Disney movies off the market for a few years, until they release them again a few years later. Now these films that are put away are only the films that use the Walt Disney name. The other films produced by companies that work for Disney are not taken off the market like these ones. First, Disney releases the movie (new or old) for a set amount of time depending on popularity. Then, they announce it will be put in the Disney Vault. The company does re-releases of these movies every several years, which made it difficult for people to buy movies once they are put in the vault. Most avid Disney movie watchers have been annoyed by this practice of re-releasing Disney movies, especially the classics. It makes the movies difficult to find. Unless someone wishes to sell their copy, it generally becomes impossible. Disney claims that this is to make older movies a new experience for new viewers.

However, most people see this as advertisement tactic, so that people will rush out and buy the movie. Disney announces that they will be locked away forever, but in reality they will be released again in a few years. This makes children want to buy the movie right away. The gimmick is that if the consumer does not buy it right away, it will not be available for years.

Disney is also releasing the movies that were made on VHS tapes on collectable DVDs. This is just another way to get people out to buy the movie because Disney adds a bunch of “never before seen features” or music videos. This seems to make the movie a new Blockbuster hit because people flock to the stores to purchase them. They create a big buzz about the film, including talking up the new features. Sometimes, they have current Disney stars to sing one of the songs, which make children rush out to get the movie. For instance, Peter Pan came out on 2-Disc DVD for a “limited time only.”

In the end, this tactic creates frustration in many Disney movie watchers, like me, because we can no longer just buy a movie. There are pressures to buy the newest, best copy with the most features. Sometimes, this tactic even makes people buy more than one copy of the movie, whether it is on VHS, DVD, or Blue Ray Disc. These collectible items are only released every few years, which is why this advertisement works because some people think that even if they buy now, their children will have in the future. This tactic keeps movies in demand and fresh to new viewers, no matter how annoying it is not to be able to buy the movie you want any day that you wish to.

People think to themselves that they will just buy it off or eBay it, but sometimes that doesn’t work quite as well as they had hoped.
I thought that Disney movies were supposed to be classic – not just a classic pain to track down.

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