Saturday, September 29, 2012

Predicting Future Disney Animation Blu-ray Releases (UPDATE)

In mere months, these predictions will probably be irrelevant, since Disney is announcing things left and right and surprising us with what they are putting on Blu-ray. I figured I'd do this for fun, since only two animated titles are slated for release on the format. I decided to go by their recent release schedule, announcements and release patterns of the past. So, here we go...

Only two releases have been confirmed for the January-March period: Peter Pan (coming February 5th) and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (this title currently does have a date, but March seems likely). What’s to come? Going by Disney’s actions as of late (dropping two titles from the Diamond Edition collection), here are my predictions. Also, the recent animated films won’t be mentioned. It’s obvious that Wreck-It Ralph is going to be a March-April release and so on.

Disney dropped One Hundred and One Dalmatians from the Diamond Edition collection, so I have a feeling that a special edition of sorts will show up sometime next year since it’s already been released in Europe. Perhaps it’ll be a late spring/early summer release, it’s just strange to see Disney dropping the title from the line. Who would’ve thought?

Earlier this year, Disney announced that Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Brother Bear would hit Blu-ray around this time. For a while, we heard nothing and no artwork was revealed. I was excited to own a nice Blu-ray edition of Atlantis: The Lost Empire (as long as it wasn’t like the Treasure Planet Blu-ray, which leaves the visual commentary off, just the commentary track), but it didn’t happen. I’d pick Brother Bear up for the great animation and the bonus features, if they were to keep them all.

Two other possible candidates are The Black Cauldron and Oliver & Company. Disney released a few of their animated classics on DVD only when fully jumping into Blu-ray. The Great Mouse Detective was also released during this time in April 2010 (the “Mystery in the Mist” edition), and that’s getting a Blu-ray release in a couple of weeks. Cauldron’s DVD came in September, and Oliver’s DVD arrived in February 2009. (Erroneously called the 20th Anniversary Edition) Another great example is the non-canon Pete's Dragon, the "High Flying Edition" came out in 2009 and the Blu-ray is right around the corner. The same may happen for Bedknobs and Broomsticks as well. It’s possible that Disney will give them a quick release next year. The Black Cauldron is a bit of a stretch, since Disney still acts as if the film is an absolute embarrassment (sorry Disney, save that attitude for a lot of the Disney Channel shows), but it could show up. If not, then expect it in 2015 for the film’s 25th Anniversary Edition.

What else? If Atlantis and Brother Bear aren't summer releases, they can come out in November. August 2013 may just be another big day, Disney releasing tons of titles the same day like they did this year. The Hunchback of Notre DameHerculesMulanTarzan and The Emperor's New Groove are very strong possibilities since Disney gave us a lot of post-Lion King/pre-computer animation titles this year. Two other possibilities are The Sword in the Stone and Robin Hood, being general release titles. Their previous DVDs came out in 2008 and 2006 respectively, so maybe Disney will release them on Blu-ray next year since it's high time they are released on the format.

The Little Mermaid is obviously going to be the October 2013 release, so we’ll leave that one out as well as it will follow the 3D theatrical re-release (which opens September 13th), so expect a very nice 3D combo pack and a sweet lenticular slipcover.

Those aforementioned August titles could very well show up in 2014. Then you may ask, what about Lilo & Stitch? Lilo & Stitch's latest DVD release was in 2009, the "Big Wave Edition", which was essentially Region 1's long-awaited 2-disc set that was already out around the world years beforehand. Like the other late DVD titles, this could very well show up next year or in 2014. There's no anniversary, so Disney can't wait much longer. A 15th Anniversary release in 2017 would be far away, and Blu-ray may not even be the dominant format by that time. As said before, Disney is probably churning out these titles in order to get them on the format before it possibly gets surpassed.

Only two Diamond Edition titles are left: The Jungle Book and Aladdin, since Pinocchio was dropped and Sleeping Beauty was already released on Blu-ray. I have a feeling they'll drop it because of that, which could've been why they dropped Pinocchio. We have no idea what will happen with Aladdin, since it was abruptly delayed, as it was originally planned to be the Q1 2013 Diamond Edition. Following the pattern won't work here, but I do think The Jungle Book will be the Q1 2014 Diamond Edition.

Why? I'm well aware that The Jungle Book and Aladdin were mostly fall releases whenever they would come out, but The Jungle Book debuted on home video in May 1991. All future re-releases were in October, to coincide with an anniversary date since the film first opened in October 1967. They won't be able to do it here, so it will most likely hit Blu-ray as a Diamond Edition in early 2014. Aladdin should make for a nice autumn 2014 release, if it's still in the Diamond line by that time.

Last but not least, the package features. Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros will probably be a two-movie pack, given Disney's recent fetish for this kind of thing, plus it was that way for the 2008 DVD releases. The uncut version of Saludos Amigos is available on the DVD of Walt & El Grupo, so hopefully Disney releases the original version on Blu-ray. Make Mine Music and Melody Time are connected, though they could possibly do a 3-pack with Fun & Fancy Free. Make Mine Music and Melody Time should be released uncut, since Disney tampered with both films for the previous releases, leaving animation fans (rightfully) upset. No more of this censorship, Make Mine Music and Melody Time must be released on home media uncensored. I think with better people on board, they know that censoring them was a terrible mistake. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad could be released on its own, but since that film and Fun & Fancy Free are essentially two stories in one, they may be released on the same set. These could come out next year, though Disney may sit on them and sort of release them in a scrapping the bottom of the barrel manner.

With that, they can have all their animated classics out on Blu-ray before 2015. Can it happen? Or do you have different predictions?

Update (10/4/12): Lnds500 ( profile), who is keeping track of Disney's release schedule both domestically and internationally, confirmed to me that when Disney drops a title from another country, it has nothing to do with the line in the United States. That being said, One Hundred and Dalmatians may be released as a Diamond Edition sometime in 2014 or 2015.

Update (2/10/13): As I said at the start, a lot of these predictions are now moot: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan and Brother Bear are coming to Blu-ray next month (the 12th to be exact), Atlantis: The Lost Empire is being released this year along with The Many Adventure of the Winnie the Pooh, which is still on track for a spring release. The Jungle Book is going to be the Q1 2014 Diamond Edition.

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