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2000px-Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment logo

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is the flagship label of Buena Vista Home Entertainment, the home video distribution division of The Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Home Entertainment also operates as Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Disney began distributing videos under its own label in 1980, while Village Roadshow distributed the Disney home video titles in Australia throughout the 1980s.

Company structure

Buena Vista Home Entertainment should not be confused with Disney's similarly named but separate business units Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (theatrical film distributor for the Walt Disney Company), Buena Vista Theatrical Productions (producer of live musicals), and the Disney Music Group (record label distributor).

Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc., distributes DVDs under the labels Walt Disney Home Entertainment, Touchstone Home Entertainment, Miramax Home Entertainment and Buena Vista Home Entertainment. The company and its predecessors formerly distributed other labels such as Hollywood Pictures Home Video, Dimension Home Video, and Muppet Home Video. With the coming of DVD, "Home Entertainment" replaced "Home Video" in label names.

Early Years

MCA DiscoVision releases

Before Disney began releasing home video titles itself, it licensed some titles to MCA DiscoVision for their newly-developed disc format, later called Laserdisc. According to the Blam Entertainment Group website, which has extensive details of DiscoVision releases, only seven Disney titles were actually released on DiscoVision. One of these was the feature film Kidnapped. The others were compilations of Disney shorts. The first titles released in 1978 included: On Vacation with Mickey Mouse and Friends (#D61-503), Kids is Kids (#D61-504), At Home with Donald Duck (#D61-505), Adventures of Chip 'n' Dale (#D61-506), and finally The Coyote's Lament (#D61-507) which was released in May 1979. Disney's agreement with MCA ended in December 1981.

Walt Disney Home Video releases

In 1980, Disney established its own video distribution operation as part of Walt Disney Telecommunications and Non-Theatrical Company (WDTNT) with Jim Jimirro as its first president. Home video was not considered to be a major market by Disney at the time. WDTNT also handled the marketing of other miscellaneous ancillary items such as short 8 mm films for home use.

First releases on Beta and VHS

Pete's Dragon front cover (1980 release)

One of the first VHS releases

Disney's first releases on tape were 13 titles that were licensed for rental to Fotomat on March 4, 1980, initially in a four-city test (Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose), to be expanded nationwide by the end of 1980. The agreement specified rental fees ranging from $7.95 to $13.95. This first batch of titles on VHS and Beta included 10 live action movies: Pete's Dragon (#10), The Black Hole (#11), The Love Bug (#12), Escape to Witch Mountain (#13), Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (#14), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (#15), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (#16), The North Avenue Irregulars (#17), The Apple Dumpling Gang (#18), and Hot Lead and Cold Feet (#19); and three of the compilations of short cartoons previously released by DiscoVision: On Vacation with Mickey Mouse and Friends (#20), Kids is Kids starring Donald Duck (#21), and Adventures of Chip 'n' Dale (#22). Later, on December 30, 1980, Mary Poppins (#23) was added to make 14 titles in all.

Authorized Rental Dealers

No new titles were released for half a year after Mary Poppins, but Walt Disney Home Video announced an expanded program for "Authorized Rental Dealers" in December 1980, and began to expand its dealer network during the first part of 1981. From January 1 to March 31, 1981, Disney had a "License One — Get One Free" promotion to encourage dealers to sign up. They also offered free rental use of a 7-minute Mickey Mouse Disco videocassette for customers who rented any title from an Authorized Rental Dealer from February through May 1981.

Disney was unusual among the major studios in offering a program for authorized rentals. Most of the other studios involved in the videocassette market at the time were trying to find ways to stop dealers from renting out their movie tapes. Magnetic Video (with titles from 20th Century Fox and others) ceased doing business with Fotomat after Fotomat began renting Magnetic Video cassettes without authorization. Disney's rental cassettes in blue cases looked completely different from sale cassettes, which were in white cases. This was designed to make it easy for Disney representatives to tell if dealers were violating their dealer agreements by renting out cassettes intended for sale.

Animated features

Main article: Walt Disney Classics
Robin Hood front cover (1984 release)

One of the first of the 15 untouchable animated films on videocassette.

The first of the Disney animated features canon to be released on videocassette was Dumbo on June 28, 1981, for rental only. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was released for rental and sale at the same time. Alice in Wonderland was released on October 15, 1981, for rental only. The other 15 animated features weren't on video due to only being released in theaters for re-release, as well as Walt Disney himself saying that he never wanted his films on the small screen.

First Walt Disney Home Video laser videodiscs and Animated Features for Sale


The Walt Disney Home Video "Neon Mickey" logo used from 1983-October 1986. A variation of this reading "Walt Disney (in a different font) Home Entertainment (in Times New Roman font)" was used previously from 1978 to 1984.

Their agreement with DiscoVision having ended in 1981, Disney began releasing Laserdiscs under the Walt Disney Home Video label to their own network of distributors and dealers. The first five titles were shipped in June 1982: The Black Hole, The Love Bug, Escape to Witch Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Cartoons, Collection One. Five more titles shipped in July: Pete's Dragon, Dumbo, Davy Crockett and the River Pirates, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, and Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Cartoons, Collection Two.

Disney released more cartoon compilations (pre-Walt Disney Cartoon Classics in 1983) in late 1981, including Goofy Over Sports and A Tale of Two Critters.

Dumbo was released for sale on tape in summer 1982, while Alice in Wonderland was released for sale in November 1982. The next major animated feature to be released (excluding the "package" anthology features) was Robin Hood on December 6, 1984, starting the Walt Disney Classics collection. By 1982, all the video releases were for sale and rental, along with newer releases, but at high prices.

To market these new video releases, the company produced an exclusive promo seen after various Disney video films. The promo was nicknamed "Walt Disney and You" by fans on account of the customized tune in the promo. The promo also featured clips from the various releases and ended with a video-freeze of the then-current Walt Disney Home Video opening sequence (known as the "Neon Mickey"; a screenshot from this can be seen above).

July 16, 1985 saw the home video premiere of Pinocchio which became the bestselling video of that year.

Disney later produced the Disney Sing-Along Songs collection of videos for young children in association with Harry Arends and Phil Savenick. The series first hit stores on December 23, 1986.

Disney DVD

Disney DVD is the brand name under which Buena Vista Home Entertainment releases its Disney-branded motion pictures. In 1997, Disney began releasing titles on DVD, with VHS releases phased out after Bambi II was released in 2006. The brand launched a loyalty program called Disney Movie Rewards in October 2006. Participants can collect points by mailing in ticket stubs from DVD purchases. The points can be redeemed for prizes like games, books, and collectibles.

Platinum Edition Line

Main article: Walt Disney Platinum Editions

The Platinum Edition line is a line of special edition DVDs released by Disney. Originally, the line was comprised of the company's ten best-selling VHS titles and were released in October of each year. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first film to receive this honor in 2001. The two following titles, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King were released in IMAX and other giant screen theaters during the holiday season before its October DVD release. Due to underperforming box office results, this tradition was terminated after Aladdin. In May 2003, Disney announced that they would be adding the next four best-selling titles to the collection. Starting in 2005, a Platinum Edition was released in October and February/March. Another tradition practiced for these released are gift sets. These gift sets contain supplements such as original animation sketches, a film frame, and a companion's book.
The current list of Platinum Editions includes: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, Bambi, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians and Sleeping Beauty. The original plan for the Platinum Editions was that they would be released ten years after they are put in the Disney Vault. Since then, this time has been shortened to seven years.

Disney Blu-ray

Disney Blu-ray is the brand name under which Buena Vista Home Entertainment releases its Disney-branded motion pictures in High-Definition. In late 2006/early 2007, Disney began releasing titles, like the Pirates of the Carribbean films and the National Treasure films, on Blu-ray Disc.


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Notable releases

Main article: List of Walt Disney video releases

See also

Notes and references

External links

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