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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The move to animated hits

Notably, for the first few years, Disney Home Video only released live-action movies from classics like Treasure Island and Mary Poppins to lesser-known films like The Devil and Max Devlin and Night Crossing. That was because Disney was still unsure of releasing their animated hits onto home video despite the obvious family market just waiting for them. 

They finally relented in 1982 with Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland. There was also the surprising release of Tron just months after its theatrical run in a time when it took at least a year for a movie to go from theaters to VHS. 

It should be noted that some movies only have a VHS release in this format, never on DVD. The biggest would have to be Song of the South as the controversial film's last home release was in 1985 before Disney basically buried it. The hidden gems of the time made the lineup striking.

By this point, the Disney Channel was now showing some of these movies to add to their popularity. Even then, Disney was wary of putting truly huge classics on Disney Channel, knowing likely folks would just tape them off the airing there. A major change came when Micahel Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg took over Disney and saw the untapped potential of the home video market. 

Thus, in 1986, the original Disney Video line ended and was replaced by Walt Disney Classics. This focused entirely on animated movies not released on home video before, with Robin Hood being the first. Another change came with Alice in Wonderland re-released in 1986 for $29.95, a big markdown compared to the $70-80 offerings for other videos.