Merchandising: A Disney Vault Made of Steelbook

Retailers mostly eschewed attaching exclusives to the Sept. 24 new releases in lieu of giving special treatment to a handful of Disney catalog titles.

The day saw the release of new “Signature Collections” of 1959’s animated Sleeping Beauty and 1961’s animated 101 Dalmatians, as well as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of 2014’s Maleficent.

The titles arrived without much fanfare or advanced promotion, leading to considerable speculation among home entertainment pundits and enthusiasts that the studio was hastily re-releasing its catalog on disc in new editions and new formats to wring some more incremental revenue from them before turning its attention to Disney+, which will become the new home of the famed “Disney Vault” when much of the studio’s catalog will be accessible to subscribers of the pending monthly SVOD service.

However, the titles also have some value as marketing tie-ins for upcoming Disney theatrical releases. In particular, the Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent re-releases herald the Oct. 18 theatrical release of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the sequel to the 2014 live-action adaptation.

Disney is also making a new 101 Dalmatians movie, the live-action prequel Cruella, with Emma Stone as the villainous character, due for theaters in 2021.

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Best Buy offered Steelbook editions of all three Blu-rays, $29.99 for the new animated editions and $34.99 for the Ultra HD Maleficent. That’s $5 more than the standard versions of each release.

Best Buy’s ‘101 Dalmatians’ Steelbook
Best Buy’s ‘Maleficent’ 4K Steelbook

Target offered the Blu-rays of the animated movies with special storybook packaging for $28.99 each.

Target’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Blu-ray with storybook
Target’s ‘101 Dalmatians’ Blu-ray with storybook

Among the smattering of additional exclusives, Best Buy offered a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of Warner’s 2019 version of Shaft for $27.99. Only the Blu-ray and DVD versions were made widely available.

Target offered a DVD of Nickelodeon’s Jojo Siwa: Sweet Celebrations with a pack-in sticker sheet for $9.99.

Target also has a buy-two-get-one-free deal on all music, books and movies, excluding new releases, preorders and clearance.

Disney Moving All ‘Vault’ Movies to Streaming Service

Disney plans to move all legacy original movie franchises such as The Lion King, 101 Dalmatians, Bambi and The Little Mermaid from its “vault” and onto the pending Disney+ subscription streaming service.

CEO Bob Iger alluded to the change March 7 during the media giant’s annual shareholder meeting in St. Louis.

“At some point fairly soon after launching, [Disney+] will house the entire Disney motion picture library,” Iger said. “So, movies that have traditionally been kept in the vault, and basically been brought out every few years, will be on the [streaming] service,” Iger said.

The Disney Vault was a marketing plan originated by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment that put select packaged media release movies, animated features and sequels on retail moratorium.

Disney advertising urged consumers to purchase select titles before they “go into the vault” for a period of years, a move studio marketers felt heightened retail demand.

The marketing was successful as Finding Nemo and Beauty and the Beast rank as the top-selling DVD and sixth best-selling Blu-ray Disc titles, respectively, in the United States.

Nemo, which was released in 2003, has generated more than $677 million from sales of nearly 39 million DVDs. Beast has generated $102 million from 4.5 million Blu-ray units sold.