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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:12 pm 
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Special Edition
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As many of you are well aware, throughout the early 2000's DVD enthusiast were treated to several bonus-packed releases which satisfied even the most finicky of consumers. Notable releases include:

Sleeping Beauty Collector’s Edition
Beauty and the Beast Platinum Edition
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum Edition
Tron Collector’s Edition
The Emperor’s New Groove: The Ultimate Groove
Dinosaur Collector’s Edition
The Fantasia Anthology (Fantasia/Fantasia 2000)
Tarzan Collector’s Edition
Bedknobs and Broomsticks 30th Anniversary Edition
Dumbo 60th Anniversary Edition
Peter Pan Special Edition

What do most of these releases have in common? Nearly all recent re-releases on either blu-ray or DVD have dropped the majority of original content and/or core documentaries produced for their predecessors.

For the last few years I have been more and more puzzled as to why WDHV has seen fit to exclude some of headlining features from some of these older releases such as the main making-of documentaries from the Snow White and Beauty and the Beast platinum releases, nearly all features from The Tarzan and Emperor's New Groove collector's editions as well as the Fantasia Anthology set.

Some people have cited budget reasons, others have speculated that overall the company has grown gradually grown more and more lazy when it comes to producing original content. I believe both of these reasons to be true, but there's more to it than meets the eye.

Recently some new (although somewhat vague) information from a reliable studio source of mine has come to my attention with whom I was able to have a lengthy conversation with about the topic.

Beginning around 1990 and 2000 Walt Disney Home Video began to subcontract a small independent production company to headline the creation of several expansive 1, 2, and 3 disc DVD sets with comprehensive documentaries aimed mainly at adult DVD collectors who at the time were the primary market and purchasers of nearly all DVD releases much the same as Laserdisc had been throughout the late 80's and all through the 90's.

These features were headlined, planned out and overseen by noted Disney historian, author, speaker Jeff Kurtti.

Jeff deeply cared about the quality of each release and did his best to include as much relevant and informative material for each film with the amount of budget and disc space he was given.

Then, sometime around 2003/04 the company which was producing nearly all of these features folded due to unknown circumstances and Disney was left to either find a new team to produce its new editions or each movie or do things "in-house".

At first the Disney did its best to emulate the prestigious scope of the previous releases, but beginning with 2003's release of The Lion King platinum edition most ardent fans could sense something wasn't quite up to par with previous titles in the series. Many features recycled from laser-disc extras and gradually year-by-year over the past decade bonus features and new original content has gone from feast to absolute famine.

But why exclude what has already been produced on current "special editons"?

How many of you recall the strange last-minute reduction of the Tarzan special edition from a 2-disc set which was supposed to replicate and supplant the original edition to a 1-disc release with a paltry set of extras? Same with Emperor's New Groove. Even Bedknobs and Broomsticks had entire features dropped and chopped down despite the fact that the original release was a solitary disc as well.

Could these same speculative reasons also be why the Fantasia two-film set downgraded from Diamond to special edition which recycled almost nothing of the groundbreaking anthology set despite it's gorgeous new restoration?

I realize that Sleeping Beauty and Peter-Pan platinum editions both build upon their former releases at least to a minimal degree, but it's important to remember that the bulk of features from the special edition release for at least SB were filmed around 1997 for the laserdisc and merely recycled or not released in full until 2003.

I think a possible explanation is be that Disney is avoiding a possible rights entanglement/royalties payment to individuals involved with the now defunct company who produced the older documentaries. Could it be that after cancelling their account with said production company that they lost the rights to distribute some of its content?

At any rate, Disney seems far less than eager to re-release or include any of the material produced during the 2000-2004 period on physical disc media and there is obviously a behind the scenes issue or prejudice of some sort going on somewhere within the inner-workings of the home video department up in Burbank.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:18 pm 
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Collector's Edition
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It's just depressing. I always dreamed The Hunchback of Notre Dame was going to get a 2-disc special-edition DVD that included a ton of supplements. (There were rumors floating around online as far back as 2005, it seemed. The film's 10th anniversary was gearing up to expecting a new DVD. I remember being SO excited. Then the 10th anniversary came and went. So did the 15th...nothing. Eventually, I lost hope.) At the very least I hoped when they did release the film, they'd just port the existing special-features from the Laser-disc (which I've never even gotten the chance to see... :( )

But now, it looks like not only will my favorite Disney classic not even get any special features when it arrives on blu-ray, but it's probably going to be paired with its godawful sequel. :cry:

I remember not three/four years ago, a new Disney release MEANT something. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast FLOORED me with what they did on their blu-ray releases. Even Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland and the Fantasias did. (Though, at the time, I remember being a BIT miffed about both Fantasias being in one package...I had no idea it was going to become a trend like it did. But I bit my tongue. Well, they're both theatrical productions, I said. It's not as if they're just going to start sticking ALL their DTV sequels on equal footing with the classics!)

Nowadays I get scared to go look up reviews of Disney's newest releases because I just KNOW there's going to be SOMETHING fucked up about it. Seriously, who thought rushing their entire catalog so fast was a good idea? In theory, it's awesome! Woo! Look how many we're getting! -But look at how many have so far been disappointments. It makes me nervous for The Great Mouse Detective. And Aladdin. And Little Mermaid. And Hercules. And, of course, Hunchback.

(I do hope that if Disney does release Hunchback with its sequel in the U.S., that the U.K. release, like Pocahontas and Fox and the Hound before it, will get a standalone edition and I can import that.)


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:46 pm 
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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea also had a pretty good 2-disc DVD release chock full of bonus features. Sadly, I don't think we'll get a Blu-Ray release like this one. I'll upgrade when it gets a Blu release, but I'll be holding onto my DVD as well.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:39 am 
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I'm holding onto all my DVD releases. Some bonus features may never see the light of day once Disney pushes through with its plan for primarily digital distribution of their films within the coming years.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:49 am 
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JustOneBite87 wrote:
I'm holding onto all my DVD releases. Some bonus features may never see the light of day once Disney pushes through with its plan for primarily digital distribution of their films within the coming years.
You said it JOB87I too am baffled by the lack of care and attention most releases get.. I say bring in new management and get back to core business.. Quality home releases on budget

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:49 am 
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Thanks for sharing. What a pity. I really hope Disney could find another company to make another great bonus features (although I liked the new supplements for the Diamond Edition of Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast).


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:53 pm 
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Collector's Edition

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Disney should go back to their original approach that they had with Dvds: release a one disc edition for the parents to buy for the kiddies, and a more expensive, two disc edition for collectors. The difference in price would cover the cost of the special features or royalties...
And this should be done for blu rays AND dvds... not just blu rays.
Ugh.


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