Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Diamond Mines That Keep Giving

The Mouse House is gearing up for a bunch of "platinum edition" releases on a raft of its old animated classics. Features like Peter Pan, Jungle Book, and a dozen others.

And why does Disney issue fancy-dancy versions of features that have been out in the marketplace for years and years? Uh, maybe because of this:

This month, the Platinum Edition of "Pinocchio," which debuted in theaters in 1953 (sic), gave "Borat" a serious run for its money in stores when both titles came out the same day. In October, the Platinum Edition of "The Little Mermaid," a big-screen hit in 1989, sold 4 million copies in a single week. In October 2003, "The Lion King" sold 3 million DVDs in two days; in October 2001, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the first Platinum Edition DVD, became the first DVD to sell 1 million units in a single day.

Pinocchio debuted in 1940, but let that small error go. The larger point here is that there are zero live-action films released in 1940 that could give Borat a "run for its money" in 2007. Or much anything else.

And The Lion King? Animation buffs will remember that LK sold 30 million videocassettes the year after its release in '94. And Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Putting aside the question of why any work of art should be under copyright seventy years after its creation, SW sold 26 million units when it was first released to home video.

But a million "Platinum Editions" of the brunette and the dwarfs in one day? Not bad for a picture that made so much money on its initial releases in '37 and '38 that it paid for Walt Disney Productions' Burbank studios. Not bad at all.

We should all have such diamond mines.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The larger error here is that it wasn't Pinocchio that was released at all. It was Peter Pan that was released this month. (Which is most likely why it was listed as being released in 1953)

That being said your point is well taken. Keep up the good work.

MrFun said...

Who said there was no money in animation?

By the way, I participated in the new Platinum Edition of "The Jungle Book." Sure would be nice to have had a tiny piece of the action in a hit like that.

Who needs live-action? The gold is in producing animation.

Scorpiotsm said...

Hey Mr. Norman,

When can we expect another article by you on Jim Hill?

MrFun said...

Sure.

I ramble on at Jim Hill Media monthly. My next column is in April.

s.r. hulett said...

The larger error here is that it wasn't Pinocchio that was released at all. It was Peter Pan that was released this month. (Which is most likely why it was listed as being released in 1953)


Whoops, you're right.

But the same principal applies: no live action feature from '53 could challenge Borat.

The biggest live-action flick from '53 (if I'm remembering right) was The Robe, the first Cinemascope release. (Starring the immortal Richard Burton.) Grossed something around $20 million. (Again, if I'm remembering my film history.)

Now. Who the hell watches The Robe today? Let alone buys a DVD of it?

Ah, but Peter Pan! Still raking in millions.

Dr. Dour said...

I ramble on at Jim Hill Media monthly.

You might want to give serious thought to rambling on weekly, since Jim is going to need to fill up more space with other things, now that his Disney sources are starting to clam up.

chrisheadrick said...

One thing about Michael Eisner: he realized that Disney Studios had a wealth of diamonds stowed away in their catalog of properties, and he mined that motherlode, turning a studio with a long history of financial precariousness into a powerful conglomerate. He also knew that Disney, as a brand, had a huge amount of goodwill associated with it.

It used to be that those movies only generated new revenue in theater releases every seven years.

Companies pay huge amounts of marketing money to generate the kind of name-association goodwill Disney had when Eisner stepped in.

Another thing about Michael Eisner: he didn't know when enough was enough, and his strip-mining practices of those properties became rapacious until brand goodwill started to become diluted. For many, the Disney name also became synonymous with extremely aggressive marketing and over-saturation. Not only are there constant new editions of classics from the Disney catalog, but there are multiple sequels to buy. Also, the "Mouse" started to look to many like a forboding media behemoth.

Here's to finding a happy medium.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget about the new formats. As Disney releases the old movies one last time on dvd, they are most likely preparing to release the same movies on Blu Ray format. Chicken Little is slatted to be released on blu ray in march...Aladdin, Beauty and The Beast and Finding Nemo are on the list for future blu ray releases, I can 't help but speculate that the classics will follow, after Disney is done selling the classics on the old format(dvd).
"Double dipping" anyone!?!...

Besides, the new "Peter Pan" transfer is getting poor reviews...mostly about the colour changes...

Rufus.

Dr. Dour said...

The problem is the fools go back to the original artwork and key from that when they should go back and look at the original technicolor prints.

Same problem with Cinderella.

Steve Hulett said...

Another thing about Michael Eisner: he didn't know when enough was enough, and his strip-mining practices of those properties became rapacious until brand goodwill started to become diluted.

Yes. But courtesy of his strip-mining, Michael E. is now a billionaire. So I doubt that he cares very much.

scorpiotsm said...

You know,

That makes an interesting idea for Disney to market it's decision to use Blu-Ray over HD DVD. They could release movies like "Song of the South" on Blu-Ray to get people to make the switch. That might help the adoption of the new format.

Site Meter