Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (incorporated as Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc. since 1997,[1] and formerly known as Walt Disney Telecommunications & Non-Theatrical Company from 1980 to 1987 and eventually Buena Vista Home Video until 1997[3]) is the home video distribution division of The Walt Disney Company. Disney began distributing videos under its own label in 1980 under the name Walt Disney Home Entertainment.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Walt Disney Telecommunications & Non-Theatrical Company (1980–1987)
Buena Vista Home Video (until 1997)
Founded1978 (1978)
Area served
Key people
Justin Connolly (president)
ProductsHome video, digital distribution
OwnerThe Walt Disney Company
ParentThe Walt Disney Studios (1978–2018)
Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International (2018–present)
Divisions20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
WebsiteDisney Movies At Home
Footnotes / references


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,[4] which has extensive details of DiscoVision releases, only six 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.[5]


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.[6] 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 movies.

Disney's first releases on tape were 13 titles that were licensed for rental to Fotomat on March 4, 1980,[7] 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.

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.[8] 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.[9] Disney's rental cassettes in blue cases looked completely different from sale cassettes, which were in white cases. That 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, and it continued until 1984, when they stopped doing so.

In the late-1980s, Disney began seeking other outlets to distribute its video, and decided to ink deals with mass-merchant retailers such as Target, Caldor, and Walmart. In 1989, Disney sought to further control the distribution of its products by eliminating the use of rack jobbers. Around this time, the studio began partnering with major retailers for advertising campaigns.[10]

Buena Vista Home Video

Buena Vista Home Video was incorporated on February 13, 1987.[1] In April 1996, due to ongoing post Disney-CC/ABC merger realignment, Buena Vista Home Video was transferred out of the Disney Television and Telecommunications group to The Walt Disney Studios.[11] Buena Vista Home Video was renamed Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 1997.[3]

Company structure

The company currently distributes digital media, Blu-ray discs and DVDs under the following labels:

  • Disney (1978–present, formerly Walt Disney Home Video (1978-2001) Walt Disney Home Entertainment (2001-2007), and Disney Videos, internationally (1995-2005))
  • Buena Vista Home Entertainment (1984–2010, no longer used in the US as a label but remains in use in other countries; formerly Buena Vista Home Video)
  • Freeform (2001–present, formerly ABC Family)
  • ABC Studios (2007–present, previously used the Buena Vista Home Entertainment label)
  • Marvel Studios (2012–present)
  • Lucasfilm (2014–present)

The company used to distribute under the following labels:

The company also licenses its live-action film catalog (mostly lesser known titles) from the Touchstone, Hollywood, ABC and Fox libraries to Kino Lorber. The company formerly licensed some of its library to Anchor Bay Entertainment, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, MGM Home Entertainment and Mill Creek Entertainment.

Animated features

The first of the Disney animated features canon to be released on videocassette was Dumbo on June 28, 1981,[12] 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.[13] Fun and Fancy Free was released in 1982 as 'Fun and Fancy Free' Featuring: Mickey and the Beanstalk, to capitalize on the best-known segment of the film.

First Walt Disney Home Video laser videodiscs and animated features for sale

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.[5]

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.[14] The next major animated feature to be released (excluding the "package" anthology features) was Robin Hood on December 3, 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 for 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). This promo was also used for other non-Disney labels such as Touchstone Home Video.

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

Later, the 1985 Making Your Dreams Come True Promotion started on November 6, 1985 with repackaged live action titles and Dumbo was released on the same day as well.

Disney targeted produced the Walt Disney Video A Longs and Disney's Greatest Lullabies collection of videos for their children. The series hit stores in January 1986.

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 October 14, 1986.

Disney DVD

Disney DVD is the brand name under which Buena Vista Home Entertainment releases its Disney-branded motion pictures. Disney began working on title releases for DVDs in 1997, although they were not released in this format in the UK until 1999. Disney's first U.S. DVD release was Mary Poppins on March 20, 1998. VHS releases ceased with Bambi II, which was released on February 7, 2006 (However, Disney continued to distribute new titles on VHS through the Disney Movie Club). The brand launched a loyalty program called Disney Movie Rewards in October 2006. Participants can collect points by submitting ticket stubs from Disney feature films, "magic codes" from Disney home video purchases and Disney CDs. The points can be redeemed for prizes like games, DVDs, books, posters, and collectibles.[15]

Tinker Bell became Disney DVD's mascot, who appeared in animation logos until 2014.

Platinum Editions

The Platinum Editions are a line of special edition DVDs released by Disney. Originally, the line comprised the company's ten best-selling VHS titles and was 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 both released in IMAX and other giant screen theaters during the holiday season before their October DVD releases. 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 Editions was released in October and February/March. Another tradition practiced for these releases were gift sets, containing supplements such as original animation sketches, a film frame, and a companion's book.

The complete 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, Sleeping Beauty, and Pinocchio. 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 four to seven years.

Diamond Editions

Beginning with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in October 2009, Disney began re-issuing Platinum Editions titles under a new Diamond Editions classification on Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack seven years later.[16] Some of the later titles also received Digital HD releases.

Signature Collection

Starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in February 2016, Disney began re-releasing their Platinum and Diamond Edition titles under the 'Walt Disney Signature Collection' logo.[17] All of these editions will be released on a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack and will also receive an early Digital HD release prior to a physical copy. Some titles (mainly films from the Disney Renaissance era) also received 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases.

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, Disney began releasing titles, like the Pirates of the Caribbean films, the National Treasure films and the first two Narnia films, on Blu-ray.

Disney Blu-ray 3D

In late 2010, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment began releasing their movies in the Blu-ray 3D format, starting with A Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland. As of 2014 however, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released only specific movies on Blu-ray 3D in North America, including but not limited to Marvel movies, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, Up, Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Zootopia, Finding Dory and Moana. In 2017, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment quietly discontinued releasing new titles in the format in North America, presumably due to the declining interest in the 3D format at home in the region. The last two titles released, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were both released in limited quantities as retailer execlusives (with the former being only available at Target and Best Buy, and the latter only available at Best Buy). Despite this, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has continued releasing new titles in the format in other regions.

Disney Second Screen

A new feature that was included in the Diamond Edition of Bambi on March 1, 2011,[18] "Disney Second Screen" is a feature accessible via a computer or iPad app download that provides additional content as the user views the film.[19] Disney Second Screen syncs along with the movie, and as the film plays, interactive elements such as trivia, photo galleries, and animated flipbooks appear on the iPad or computer screen.[20] It is currently available in the United States and English-speaking Canada.[21]

Ultra HD Blu-ray

Disney began releasing new releases (with the exception of Christopher Robin) on Ultra HD Blu-ray starting with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on August 22, 2017 (under the Marvel Studios label).[22][23] More films like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (which is the first 4K UHD title released under the main Disney label), Cars 3 (which is Pixar's first film on the Ultra HD Blu-ray format), Coco, Thor: Ragnarok, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (which is the first film released on UHD under the Lucasfilm label, the first Star Wars film to be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray, and Disney's first physical UHD release with Dolby Vision HDR), Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, Avengers: Infinity War, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Incredibles 2, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Mary Poppins Returns, Captain Marvel, Dumbo, Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Toy Story 4, Stuber, The Lion King, and Ad Astra have subsequently been released on the format in certain countries.

Some of these 4K UHD titles have been released outside of the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, nearly all of them have been released in the United Kingdom, Japan, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Australia, Scandinavia, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Christopher Nolan's The Prestige was Disney's first overall catalog release on UHD under the Touchstone label,[24] while the rest of Nolan's re-released UHD titles in the US were distributed by Warner Home Video, with the exception of Interstellar (which is handled by Paramount Home Media Distribution, Warner retains international rights). The Incredibles was the first catalog film under both the Walt Disney Pictures and the Pixar labels to be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray. It was released on this format on June 5, 2018, near the American release of Incredibles 2.[25] The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron were jointly the first (first-party) catalog Ultra HD Blu-ray releases under the Marvel Studios label, with both titles released alongside Avengers: Infinity War on August 14, 2018 in the United States and Canada. On November 6, 2018, Disney released another catalog title, Wreck-It Ralph (2012) on UHD before Ralph Breaks the Internet was released. On December 4, 2018, Disney released The Lion King as the first 'Walt Disney Signature Collection' Ultra HD Blu-ray release.[26] and the first three Avengers films were also released in the UK on Ultra HD Blu-ray on their own on September 3, 2018.[27] On February 26, 2019, Disney released The Little Mermaid on Ultra HD Blu-ray for its 30th anniversary. They also released Captain America: The First Avenger on 4K UHD Blu-ray the same day. On April 22, 2019, a 'Captain America 3-Movie Collection' 4K boxset came out in the UK. Disney released Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3 on Ultra HD Blu-ray on June 4, 2019. Cinderella is released on Ultra HD Blu-ray alongside with Dumbo on June 25, 2019. Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Thor, and Thor: The Dark World were released on Ultra HD Blu-ray under the Marvel Studios label alongside Avengers: Endgame on August 13, 2019. On September 10, 2019, 8 Pixar titles Cars, Cars 2, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Ratatouille, Brave, The Good Dinosaur, and Inside Out were released on Ultra HD Blu-ray alongside Aladdin from the 'Walt Disney Signature Collection' and the live-action film in the United States and Canada. On September 24, 2019, Disney released Maleficent on Ultra HD Blu-ray before the sequel is released. On October 1, 2019, Disney released Frozen on also Ultra HD Blu-ray before Frozen II was released. Disney released 5 Walt Disney Animation Studios movies: Tangled, Big Hero 6, Moana, Zootopia, and The Princess and the Frog on Ultra HD Blu-ray on November 5, 2019, 17 days before Frozen II was released.

Before Disney started doing their own first-party releases, German film distributor Concorde Home Entertainment released Iron Man 1, 2, and 3 on UHD in Germany because they handled the German distribution of those films and because of their territory specific distribution rights. The three films are available separately or in a limited edition steelbook set. Concorde also released The Incredible Hulk on UHD in Germany and by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in the United States and certain other countries.[28] Glass was released by UPHE in the US on April 16, 2019 and released in the UK on May 20, 2019 by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment under the Buena Vista Home Entertainment name.

The Japanese anime movie Mary and the Witch's Flower also had a 4K Blu-ray edition released in its home territory by Walt Disney Studios Japan as part of a Collector's Edition which also included the regular Blu-ray. It never got a 4K release outside of Japan. The other Japanese-only 4K release so far is Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, which was released alongside the Bandai Visual-distributed 4K release of its predecessor on the same day.

See also

Notes and references

  1. "BUENA VISTA HOME ENTERTAINMENT, INC. C1399345". California Business Search. State of California. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  2. Magiera, Marcy (December 11, 2013). "MacPherson, Marinelli, Tarantino Inducted Into Variety's Home Entertainment Hall of Fame". Variety. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  3. "BUENA VISTA HOME ENTERTAINMENT, INC". Corporation & Business Entity Database. New York Department of State. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  4. Young, Blaine. "MCA DiscoVision". Blam Entertainment Group. Retrieved September 19, 2006.
  5. "Disney Releases 10 Titles on Laser Videodisc". Videodisc/videotex. Meckler Publishing. 2 (3): 175. Summer 1982.
  6. Froke, Marlowe (December 12, 1989). "Oral History Collection – James P. Jimirro" (Interview transcript). The Cable Center. Retrieved September 19, 2006.
  7. "Walt Disney – Fotomat Announce Video Tape Programming Pact". Dow Jones News Service – Ticker. March 3, 1980.
  8. "Studios hamstrung as rentals of videocassettes trim profits". Wall Street Journal. March 27, 1981.
  9. Kopp, George (February 14, 1981). "Magnetic Video Decision Awaited: Firm's Cassette Rental Policy Expected in 3–4 Weeks". Billboard.
  10. Eisner, Michael; Schwartz, Tony (1998). Work in Progress: Risking Failure, Surviving Success. New York: Random House. pp. 186-191. ISBN 0375500715. OCLC 39919327.
  11. "Roth, Iger Assume Expanded Responsibilities at the Walt Disney Company". PRNewswire. April 16, 1996. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  12. "(Title unknown)". Billboard. August 15, 1981.
  13. "Disney releasing six video titles". The Globe and Mail (United Press International). October 14, 1981. p. 15.
  14. Wollman, Jane (September 16, 1982). "A wider selection in children's video". The New York Times.
  15. K. Arnold, Thomas (April 5, 2007). "Studios keep spotlight on DVD". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  16. Disney's Blu-ray Diamond Collection - Press Release. UltimateDisney.com (September 10, 2009). Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  17. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Walt Disney Signature Collection Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review Retrieved on 2017-05-12.
  18. Landy, Tom (December 10, 2010). "'Bambi (Two-Disc Diamond Edition)' Blu-ray Fully Detailed". High Def Digest. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  19. Snider, Mike (February 24, 2011). "Second Screen creates a 'Bambi' for multitaskers". USA Today. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
  20. "Disney to Bow a New iPad and PC App with the Bambi Diamond Edition (Blu-ray)". BD-Live News. December 10, 2010. Archived from the original on March 17, 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  21. Lawler, Richard (December 8, 2010). "Disney announces Bambi Blu-ray/DVD combo for March 1st, debuts new Second Screen PC/iPad app". Engadget. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  22. Landy, Tom (July 4, 2017). "James Gunn's 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Coming in August". High-Def Digest. Archived from the original on July 4, 2017. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  23. Katzmeier, David (June 9, 2017). "'Guardians of the Galaxy 2' could be Disney's first 4K Blu-ray". CNET. Archived from the original on July 4, 2017. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  24. The Prestige 4K Blu-ray, retrieved June 24, 2018
  25. The Incredibles 4K Blu-ray, retrieved June 24, 2018
  26. Stewart, John (November 3, 2018). "'The Lion King' is Getting a 4K Release". Slanted. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  27. "Marvel Studios to Release The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron on 4K Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  28. Iron Man Trilogy 4K Blu-ray, retrieved June 24, 2018
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