Disney's exit from home video turns its back on the industry it helped build

Disney deciding to back out of the home video market is amazing given how they helped build it in the first place! Here's a short history of Disney making physical media such a big deal

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - The classic fairy tale turned motion picture, "Beauty and the Beast" has the magical combination of humor, music, and romance that creates a timeless story that can be appreciated by generation after generation. A beautiful and spirited teenage girl named Belle discovers that you can't judge a book by its cover when she meets an enchanted prince desperately trapped in the body of a beast, in Walt Disney Pictures' magical animated musical, "Beauty and the Beast" airing
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - The classic fairy tale turned motion picture, "Beauty and the Beast" has the magical combination of humor, music, and romance that creates a timeless story that can be appreciated by generation after generation. A beautiful and spirited teenage girl named Belle discovers that you can't judge a book by its cover when she meets an enchanted prince desperately trapped in the body of a beast, in Walt Disney Pictures' magical animated musical, "Beauty and the Beast" airing /
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With the news of Disney shutting down the Disney Movie Club and now reaching out to Sony to produce Blu-Ray discs, it looks like Disney is backing out of the physical media market. It is a strange position for those who remember how Disney helped build that market in the first place. 

It’s fascinating seeing how easily Disney embraced physical media from the days of video cassettes to DVD, Blu-Ray, and beyond. To see them let it go is another sign of how times have changed, so it’s a good time to look back at the unique history of Disney and home video and how well they worked together.

The early days of home video

For two generations, it’s hard to explain just how much the home video market changed moviemaking. Before the 1980s, the only way to watch a movie was in theaters or wait for it to hit network TV. It was why studios would often do re-releases of past blockbusters, and while cable TV was starting to rise, it wasn’t catching on yet.

Enter the VCR and Beta (the short-lived competitor) and the rise of video stores. It has to be remembered that rental was the best way for customers to get tapes due to how buying movies could have frankly outrageous prices of a hundred dollars, which was a wild sum in the 1980s. 

Disney latched onto that in 1980, first with Sony and then on their own with Walt Disney Home Video. They actually were a bit reluctant to give theatrical movies a bigger showcase at home but finally released a batch, marked by the logo of Mickey in his Sorcerer’s Apprentice outfit showing the Disney logo. 

For the record, the first movies ever released on VHS were The Black Hole, Davy Crockett, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Bednobs and Broomsticks, The Love Bug, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Hot Lead and Cold Feet, Escape to Witch Mountain and Pete’s Dragon. It was a unique opening collection but got Disney started in the market.