Via: The Orlando Sentinel
The “Disney Vault” is the term used by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment for its policy of putting home video releases of Walt Disney Animation Studio‘s animated features on moratorium. Each Disney film is available for purchase for a limited time, after which it is put “in the vault” and not made available in stores for several years until it is once again released.
So says Wikipedia.
We all know about the Vault. It’s pretty much been around as long as I’ve been alive, although the Wikipedia article feels it goes all the way back to when Snow White was re-released.
The thing is, in the 21st century, is the Vault even relevant? Here’s a few reasons why it isn’t.
1. DVDs outlive VHS tapes
Yes, back in the day, you bought movies on real tapes that you had to rewind if you wanted to watch again. What everyone seems to have overlooked since the advent of DVDs is that tapes wore out and lost quality the more they were played. DVDs can be played “forever” without any degradation. The end result? The second-hand market for DVDs is much stronger than for tapes and sll those copies of Vault films that are lying around in empty nests have a habit of making it onto eBay.
2. The Vault Doesn’t Make The Films Any More Valuable
Think about it. If you lock a film away for a number of years, does that make it any more valuable? Of course not! Less people can watch it an appreciate it. Right? So if you had to make a decision, would you try and keep a film locked up as much as possible or try and get as many people to see it as possible? Exactly! You’d want the latter so you could sell more merchandise!
3. If You Broadcast The Films On TV, Doesn’t That Make The Vault Moot?
For this one, we have to assume that the studio isn’t attempting to stop people from seeing the films, just from “owning” them. Why? They broadcast the vaulted films almost constantly. You couldn’t find Aladdin on DVD for love nor money but you could easily throw on [shiver] ABC Family and see it being broadcast. The same goes for Snow White, which was supposedly in the Vault until recently but was broadcast last Christmas! Now if that doesn’t send confusing signals, I don’t know what does.
4. The Obvious Reason
Legality aside, the commercial reasons for locking up content are becoming increasingly irrelevant. If I can’t find something in the shop (or online through legal avenues), what is stopping me from wandering over to the bittorrents. My conscience? Oh sure, Disney would like to believe that Jiminy Cricket is sitting on your shoulder telling you no to “pirate” that copy of Pinocchio, but the reality is that he’s just not there for a lot of folks.
Ever growing numbers of internet-native kids are growing up with the notion that all forms of entertainment come from the internet. If they’re led to believe by just about everyone that they can get whatever they want whenever they want it, why should they think they have to wait around for years for something to be “released from the Vault”.
The answer is, they won’t and Disney will be all the poorer for it.
Disney really ought to re-think the limited-release strategy that they’ve branded as the Disney Vault. In this day and age you can’t help but feel its self-defeating on a number of levels and besides, if people want to see the content, they will see it regardless.