Hey honeybuns, it’s been a while, but I’m back! And I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time… So here we go! Most or some of us, at least Disney fans, have heard about the “Disney Vault”, and maybe we think about it as another way that Disney uses to get money out of our pockets. But what is this Vault?
First, we need some context… Ever since their first appearance, some of the Disney Classics were kept in the Vault, and, as a marketing strategy, Disney re-released them in theaters from time to time, approximately every 7-to-10 years. For example, Pinocchio was originally released in theaters in 1940, but it was also displayed in 1945, 1954, 1962, 1971, 1978, and 1984. This way, Disney ensured every generation had the chance to watch the film in theaters, and, in consequence, they earned a lot of money just by displaying the same movie over and over again. Clever, right?
Well, before all the entertainment platforms and internet, there was these things called VCR’s and VHS’s (#vintage, right?). In the 1980’s, the home entertainment industry became the only way to get access to movies, aside from going to theaters. In the beginning, it was weird, as in “why would anyone want to see the same movie over and over again” kind of weird. To which I reply, “If it’s a great movie, why wouldn’t I want to see it over and over again?!”.
This tendency became clear to the people in Disney Animation Studios, but they weren’t sure if they wanted to “lose” the prestige and uniqueness sentiment around their classics, such as Pinocchio, Cinderella, Sleeping Beaty, and Snow White, by making them available, as any other movie, in every video store. So, in 1985, they went for something in between… Instead of selling them to the public, they decided to sell them to video rent stores for $79.99 dollars. This way, people could only have them for short periods of time paying a lower price. What they never considered was that video stores would be like: “Thank you but thank you, NEXT”. So… It was time to rethink!
In August of 1985, they went for a test, pricing Pinocchio VHS for sale at $29.99, and for their surprise, they sold 600,000 copies! Pretty good, huh? But they still weren’t sure! So, in 1986, the next movie for theater re-release was Sleeping Beauty, so they decided to do some math. They realized that if they kept the strategy of only release movies in cinemas, they could make $125 million in the next 28 years. But with a single home-video release, they would make at least $100 million in only six months… I know, $25 million is a lot, but it was literally “lots of money on the long run or almost as good money in the way shorter run”. I bet you can imagine what happens!
In fall of 1986, Sleeping Beauty was available for $29.99 per cassette, and it sold 1.3 million copies! This is when they got it, and the next in line was Cinderella, available in summer of 1988: they sold 6 million copies! This is crazy, right? But wait for it! Open the doors for the queen! Snow White was available for $29.99 in 1994, and Disney sold 50 million copies!
Of course, all these movies were only available for six months and then re-vaulted. That means they wouldn’t be available in stores for the next 7-to-10 years! Now, let’s make something clear, these four movies were not the only ones in the vault, actually there were other 12 movies, which are: Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
Nowadays, this tradition is kind of lost, by having most of them available in internet or entertainment platforms, and with the arriving of Disney +, all these movies are out there to our disposal. But, you know, it’s kind of fun knowing a bit about history of Disney. By the way, since they keep those home-videos in the Vault, if you see them around, and you want them, do it right on the spot, cuz’ you won’t have another chance for at least 7-to-10 years!
I hope you enjoyed this cake, and please let me know what’s your favorite Disney movie included in the vault! Next time, I will try explaining WHY those 16 movies are there, but until then, thanks, honeybuns! See you around!
Featured collage made by Cinthia Rico.