Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (previously known as Walt Disney Home Video and Walt Disney Home Entertainment) is the flagship label of Buena Vista Home Entertainment, the home video distribution division of The Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment also operates as Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Disney began distributing videos under its own label in 1980, while Village Roadshow distributed the Disney home video titles in Australia throughout the 1980s.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment should not be confused with Disney's similarly named but separate business units Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (theatrical film distributor for the Walt Disney Company), Buena Vista Theatrical Productions (producer of live musicals), and the Disney Music Group (record label distributor).
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, distributes DVDs, Blu-Rays, and digital releases under the labels Disney, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, ABC Signature, Freeform, 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, 20th Television, and Touchstone Television. The company and its predecessors formerly distributed other labels such as Hollywood Pictures Home Video, Touchstone Home Entertainment, Dimension Home Video, Miramax Home Entertainment, DIC Toon-Time Video, ABC Video, Jim Henson Video, and Muppet Home Video. (The Touchstone and Hollywood names continue to be used on a limited basis for re-releases of archive titles from those labels.) With the coming of DVD, "Home Entertainment" replaced "Home Video" in label names.
Disney has also been known to sub-license certain titles to other companies for home release. Anchor Bay Entertainment released some of Disney's more obscure live-action output in the late 1990s and early 2000s (including Condorman, Midnight Madness and The Black Hole) and some content from ABC Motion Pictures/ABC Pictures International. Mill Creek Entertainment similarly licensed backlog titles from Touchstone and Hollywood in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
MCA DiscoVision releases
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, which has extensive details of DiscoVision releases, only seven 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.
Walt Disney Home Video releases
In 1980, Disney established its own video distribution operation as part of the Walt Disney Telecommunications and Non-Theatrical Company (WDTNT) with Jim Jimirro as its first president. 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 use.
First releases on Beta and VHS
Disney's first releases on tape were 13 titles that were licensed for rental to Fotomat on March 4, 1980, 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.
Authorized Rental Dealers
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. 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. Disney's rental cassettes in blue cases looked completely different from sale cassettes, which were in white cases. This 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.
- Main article: Walt Disney Classics
The first of the Disney animated features canon to be released on videocassette was Dumbo on June 28, 1981, 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. The other 15 animated features weren't on video due to only being released in theaters for re-release, as well as Walt Disney himself saying that he never wanted his films on the small screen.
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.
Dumbo was released for sale on tape in summer 1982, while Alice in Wonderland was released for sale in November 1982. 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 films. The promo was nicknamed "Walt Disney and You" by fans on account of 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).
July 16, 1985 saw the home video premiere of Pinocchio which became the bestselling video of the year. It was put on sale for $29.95 on November 5, 1985 for the "Making Your Dreams Come True" promotion on Dumbo, along with 21 other titles.
The following year, Disney produced the Disney's Greatest Lullabies and Walt Disney Video-A-Longs collections of videos for children. The series first hit stores in January 7, 1986. Later that year, Disney began to produce the Disney Sing-Along Songs collection of videos for young children in association with Harry Arends and Phil Savenick. The series first hit stores in October 14, 1986.
Disney DVD is the brand name under which Buena Vista Home Entertainment releases its Disney-branded motion pictures. In 1997, Disney began releasing titles on DVD, with VHS releases phased out after Bambi II was released in early 2006 (LaserDiscs were phased out by 1999, with Inspector Gadget being the final Disney release on the format). The brand launched a loyalty program called Disney Movie Rewards in October 2006. Participants can collect points by entering codes found in DVD and Blu-ray purchases. The points can be redeemed for prizes like games, books, and collectibles. In 2019, Disney Movie Rewards was renamed Disney Movie Insiders.
- Main article: Walt Disney Platinum Editions
The Platinum Edition line is a line of special edition DVDs released by Disney. Originally, the line was comprised of the company's ten best-selling VHS titles and were released in October or November 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 released in IMAX and other giant screen theaters during the holiday season before its October DVD release. 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 Edition was released in October and February/March. Another tradition practiced for these released are gift sets. These gift sets contain supplements such as original animation sketches, a film frame, and a companion's book.
The current 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 seven years.
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/early 2007, Disney began releasing titles, like the Pirates of the Caribbean films and the National Treasure films, on Blu-ray Disc. Beginning with the first Diamond Edition in 2009, the most popular animated titles began to be re-released on Blu-ray, with many of the Platinum Edition supplments returning alongside new bonus material. The Diamond Edition line has since been superseded by the Walt Disney Signature Collection.
An extension of the brand, Disney Blu-ray 3D, was created in 2010 to indicate titles with 3D capability. Another new technology, Disney Second Screen, began to be included on Blu-ray releases starting in 2013, enabling viewers to sync their mobile devices with the Blu-ray to provide additional content.
- Main article: List of Walt Disney video releases
- Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection
- List of Disney theatrical animated features
- Touchstone Pictures
- Hollywood Pictures
- Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC