Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Icy Diamond?

So as all of you may know by now, Frozen is a runaway success for Walt Disney Animation Studios and their biggest success since The Lion King. It has earned Disney Animation their first Oscar for Best Animated Feature (and of course, the iconic 'Let It Go' took home Best Song and is a worldwide phenomenon) and it's also their highest-earning film, period. People loved it. It's everywhere.

The Blu-ray hits stores on the 18th, but like all of the other Blu-ray editions of Disney Animation's recent films, the package is lacking in the bonus features department. Just some featurettes and deleted scenes, but nothing crazy. Nothing like the great 2-disc sets that Pixar normally makes for their films.

But what's really unusual about this release is that there will be no Blu-ray 3D edition. Europe is getting a Blu-ray 3D edition, but not us. Here in the states, if you want to own it in 3D, you have to get yourself a VUDU account in order to get it. No physical release is on the horizon right now… Why is that?

Well, at first a lot of us thought that they were holding out the 3D edition for the holidays because Disney used to have a routine of sorts in the 1990s with LaserDisc, then they carried that strategy over onto DVDs. They would release a relatively barebones edition first, wait a little while, and then release a deluxe version that was packed to the brim with bonus features. A couple years into the DVD era, Disney finally released the barebones and packed editions on the same day starting with Dinosaur in early 2001. The last 2-disc set for a Disney animated film would be the original Brother Bear DVD from 2004. (Sad, huh?)

Films like Bolt, The Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph didn't get great 2-disc sets packed to the brim with in-depth featurettes and stuff. At all.

Disney may plan on revisiting that practice for Frozen, since Frozen was a huge hit and is their highest grossing film. Why wouldn't they? They would want to milk that cash cow! The film is essentially a goldmine…

But then you may ask, "What about Disney's apparent desire to move away from physical media?" I'm hoping that Disney comes to their senses on this, because people are not abandoning physical media formats. 2013's DVD and Blu-ray sales were impressive, and they showed that people still like buying hard copies of movies. Digital isn't the be-all end-all, it's just convenient for a lot of people… But lots of people also like owning hard copies, and many people are also aficionados who want to see bonus features.

Anyways, either Disney will give us the definitive "Ultimate Collector's Edition" of Frozen this coming autumn, or…

They will add it to the Diamond Edition collection.

Think about that for a second…

When talking with fellow Disney and animation enthusiast David Daut (his blog) today, he brought up the possibility of Disney adding Frozen to this very collection. Honestly, I think this might just end up happening.

Again, this is Disney Animation's highest earning film and it's one of their most popular and recognized now. It'll appeal to audiences for generations to come, and audiences really liked/loved it. The Diamond Collection, formerly the Platinum Collection, is home to 14 Disney animated features that happen to be the most successful and popular, then and now. (It has nothing to do with quality, actually. If it did, you'd see Dumbo in there.)

Renaissance smashes The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King are obviously in the line because of how they did in theaters and how they did on home video. Something like Pocahontas or Tarzan, despite the fact that both did well at the box office and on home video, weren't exactly gargantuan hits. This line is reserved for hits of that caliber. Nothing that was released after The Lion King is part of the collection.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the highest grossing film of all time back when it came out, and it continued to do very well when re-released over the decades. The video sales were always great, too. Plus, it's the first and one of the best of Disney's animated classics. It has to be part of the line. Pinocchio, while a flop on initial release, did better when re-released and sold like hotcakes on home video. Pinocchio is also part of the line because it has to be: It's hailed as one of the greatest animated films ever, if not the greatest. Adjusted, it's one of their titans. Bambi as well. Dumbo? Not so much, it was never a Platinum Edition or Diamond Edition, and it rarely ever went back to the vault. From 1981 to about 2006, it was always available. The 2006 DVD was the first edition of that film ever to be put on moratorium. Fantasia is not part of the line because Disney treats it like it's its own beast, though at one point, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 were supposed to be Diamond Editions.

Cinderella, Peter Pan, Lady and the TrampSleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Jungle Book are also gargantuan successes when you adjust their release and re-release box office totals, and also when you factor in video sales. They are also well-known and beloved, they're some of the first films you may think of when someone says "Disney".

Now Frozen has the necessary qualifications. It's a crazy-big success, the Blu-ray and DVD are likely to break records, 'Let It Go' is EVERYWHERE, the soundtrack hit #1 and chilled Beyonce, it got an Oscar for Best Animated Feature… I don't really need to say anymore. Disney will most likely add this film to that very line.

The Diamond Collection should come to an end in spring 2016. Sleeping Beauty is the next Diamond Edition, which comes out this fall, and they have three more to go after that: Pinocchio, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and Aladdin. Given the schedule (one in the spring, one in the fall), two of those should come out in 2015, the last one will cap things off in spring 2016.

That means in October 2016, the cycle will begin again… But what will Disney call the line this time? Titanium Collection? Super-Awesome Collection? Or will they drop this "collection" stuff altogether and just release the films, and then vault them? I think so, despite the new Disney Movies Anywhere app that has just come out. Some have asked whether this app means the end of the vault or not. Nope, it doesn't.

If you notice, the only Diamond titles available for streaming on there are CinderellaPeter Pan, The Little Mermaid and The Jungle Book. Those are not in the vault yet, but look up something like The Lion King on their website and you get this…

The vault is now and forever, folks - even in the digital world. Walt Disney's master plan will always be in effect at the company when it comes to these particular features, it's a strategy everyone seems to hate but it's an incredibly smart business one. Vault talk aside, yes, I think Frozen indeed join this bestsellers collection - whatever it's called in 2016. Or if there even is a line or name for it…

Physical media, I believe, will still be around then. Again, Sony and Panasonic are quietly developing a format, and the discs are supposed to hold 300GB of data. Disney might end up latching onto that, despite their current attitude towards physical media. We'll have to wait and see, but I do believe that Frozen will be part of this big league of films.

What do you think? Will we get a big 3D/collector's edition this fall? Or is Disney waiting for the Platinum/Diamond cycle to end and start over again? Will it be part of that bestsellers league at all? Sound off below!

1 comment:

  1. That might explain why we, Europeans are getting a 3D Blu-Ray release, since here, some films didn't get the Diamond treatment, and are already released in BD, like Aladdin, or 101 Dalmatians. Maybe the same thing is happening with Frozen, they didn't want to wait for it to release it later as a Diamond Edition (or as a "Super Duper Mega Awesome Titanium Powerbook G4 Whatever Edition"), and will release the 3D version right now.