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 Disney Renaissance opened new avenues

When Disney began its Animated Renaissance in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, it changed the home video market. As soon as Mermaid hit home video, it became a monster best-seller, with Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin following. Thus, for years, customers could enjoy the wonderful “clamshell” video covers with gorgeous artwork that became part of any video library. 

By the late 1980s, it finally dawned on studios that cutting sale prices on home video could lead to better dividends. Disney latched onto that, with Who Framed Roger Rabbit becoming a massive seller. The company also released “kiddie” videos like sing-a-longs and cartoon compilations, which could be great for the younger crowd.

In 1994, the big one finally hit: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs getting its first-ever home release on VHS to start the Masterpiece Collection. Disney even had a few on Laserdisc, which was rarer and more exclusive to customers but showed the pictures in glorious, pristine condition. 

At this time, the home video market exploded from simply rentals to sales as other studios followed Disney’s lead with lower-priced fare. It also led to a new push in family films on video, opening the doors to the direct-to-video fare that formed the backbone of the video store industry in the 1990s. 

There was the rise of direct-to-video fare like sequels to Aladdin and others that have been debated by fans. It was a double-edged sword as the home releases threatened to dilute the Disney brand, yet fans kept buying them. However, the creation of the Masterpiece and Film Classics lines expanded them just as the VHS market was coming to an end.