|Buy this book. Now.|
But then, something strange happens. Starting after The Happiest Millionaire, the book switches formats. All of a sudden instead of separate sections for each movie, each is given a few paragraphs and strung together into one long chapter of sorts. He touches down for a moment on each film and then swiftly moves to the next, separating credits into a different area later and leaving you with the sinking feeling that you've just skimmed the surface of everything past about 1968. I know that you can guess what the before and after moment was. All of the movies that got the short shrift are those that Walt Disney himself was not directly involved in.
I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. I think that we, as Disney fans, sometimes don't take the time to stop and be grateful for the fact that so much of the studio's work is meticulously preserved, catalogued and analyzed if you dig around just a bit. Our love runs so deep that we get frustrated by the things that remain out of our grasp. Maltin is one man who has done more for Walt Era Disney fans than almost anyone else in the world. Besides The Disney Films, he curated the incredible Walt Disney Treasures series, which got previously hard to find material into people's homes to enjoy on DVD. I can't begrudge him the fact that he chose to focus his energies on the studio's Walt era output because that's what was released during his childhood. It is what holds the most meaning and nostalgia for him.
|Release him from the vault!|
|I'll watch anything with|
Helen Hayes in it. Anything.
The movies from when I was growing up in the eighties, a period before the advent of the DVD when home video was just becoming a thing, also have a spotty release history. Some of the DVD releases were through an agreement with a company called Anchor Bay and are now out of print and scarce. Once we hit the nineties, titles became available with more regularity, since home entertainment was becoming a cash cow. As far as the features are concerned, the vast majority are available, even if it is a chore to track them down. The issue here is in shoddy presentation. We are backed into a corner by the studio and forced to shell out money for discs that contain nothing but cruddy looking transfers of the movies that we love with an original trailer as a special feature if we're lucky. Commercials do not bonus features make, my fine folks. Sorry to break it to you, but y'all ain't foolin' no one. We buy them because we don't have any other choice, not because we know we'll be satisfied.
|Snow White's never watched When Animals Attack.|
|Triplet hijinks! Amazeballs!|
I know that it's very hard to balance profitability with keeping the fans happy and giving them what they want, but, as much as I'd love to, I can't afford to reward Disney for throwing us crumbs and expecting us to lap them up so that they will throw us a few more. Rarely does it lead to them giving the films, and by extension us, the treatment that they deserve. I bought a Blu-ray player almost exclusively because Disney was only putting the good special features on that format. Then they have the gall to release Winnie the Pooh on Blu-ray with a meager slate of extras and release The Muppets so that the only way to get all of the extras is to buy a considerably more expensive version that includes a soundtrack download that any fan has already bought and a digital download that few ever use. Will I buy it? Yes. Will I feel good about buying it? Heck no. This, ladies and gentlemen, is pure greed, and we put up with it because we have no other choice. But I digress. That's a different blog entry.
What we need is someone who is advocating for this older, unreleased material, and period in Disney history, to be preserved in a fitting way. We need someone to do for the seventies and beyond what Leonard Maltin and Roy E. Disney did for the sixties and before. Someone who has clout and can steer the Disney in the direction of doing right by its historic back catalog. Someone who has both the access and the knowledge to continue the work of preserving the legacy of this studio's more recent past, which has been sadly neglected so far. Someone who can attack the project with the passion needed to make things happen. Now that Roy has passed and Maltin seems to have busied himself with other projects after the tragic dissolution of the Walt Disney Treasures line, the time is ripe for someone to step forward and take the lead filling in the historical gaps that the studio has left embarrassingly unattended.
|After all it's a step in the right direction.|
It's a step in the right direction after all.
Walt had the right idea on this front. He correctly felt that if you gave people something that they perceived as good value for their money, they would keep coming back willingly. He poured cash into his films and parks knowing that the money would come back to him ten fold, and it did when people felt like they got more than their money's worth. The problem now lies in people feeling like the prices rise, but the quality diminishes. This is a common denominator across many of the company's branches from the parks, to home entertainment, to feature films. I am less apt to have my wallet at the ready if I feel that I am more likely than not going to come away from the transaction feeling gypped and buyer's-remorseful. This is exactly the position I feel like I'm in with Disney. I no longer have faith that they will give me a product that is worth my money. I hope that they will and am often disappointed. When the trust is diminished, so is the brand loyalty, and with that so is the spending. Please, guys. Give us something that we can feel good about giving you our money for. It really is that simple.
I would love to hear thoughts from you guys on this. These are things that have been eating at me for a while. You know how much I love Disney and want to see them prosper, but I feel like they are getting in their own way and stepping on their most ardent fans in the process. What are some possible solutions to this dilemma? Is there anybody in the company (or otherwise) that you feel is trying to step up to the task? What would you most like to see finally get put on disc? Are you satisfied with the re-releases that Disney has been producing or do you feel like they should be putting a little more energy into them? Am I just being whiny, picky and ungrateful? What are your go-to sources for Disney historical information, especially relating to the seventies and beyond?