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'Beauty' To Put New Shine On Disney's Platinum Edition

13 Jun, 2002 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Declaring the family market for DVD “has arrived,” Buena Vista Home Entertainment president Robert Chapek unveiled the studio's two big family DVD releases of the year, both of them double-disc sets with bonus materials segmented for different demographics.

“Our discs are a direct reflection of the marketplace,” Chapek said.

While traditional special features such as commentaries, documentaries and behind-the-scenes snippets appeal to early adopters who tend to be film aficionados, “we now have to cater to the masses as well,” Chapek said.

On the Beauty and the Beast special edition DVD due Oct. 8 for a limited time only (prebook Aug. 27, SRP for DVD at $29.99, VHS $24.99), separate menu gateways lead to special features aimed at film buffs, families and children.

On the Monsters, Inc. DVD, due Sept. 17, (prebook July 23, SRP DVD at $29.99, VHS $24.99) there are gateways for the “Human World” and the “Monster World.”

The former leads to such extras as a tour of the Pixar Animation Studios, character design galleries and a storyboard-to-film comparison. The “Monster World” takes users to such kid-friendly features as an exclusive Monsters, Inc. short, “Mike's New Car;” the activity “Boo's Door Game”; and a read-along story.

These segmented DVDs are a harbinger of future releases or at least those geared toward the family market, Chapek said.

“We're dealing with two audiences, the early adopter/film buffs and the families,” he said. For film buffs, a DVD is a way to get deeper into the movie, but for families and kids, “it's a toy.”

The Beauty and the Beast DVD package includes three versions of the film: the original theatrical release, a work-in-progress edition (as shown at the 1991 New York Film Festival) and a special edition with an all-new musical sequence, “Human Again,” which appeared in IMAX theaters this year.

The 1992 theatrical hit, the only animated film ever nominated for a best picture Oscar, is the second of 10 Disney animated classics to come out in an extras-laden Platinum Edition, following Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which launched the line last fall and reportedly sold 1 million units its first day.

The Monsters, Inc. DVD includes both widescreen and full-screen versions of the film, the latter specially reformatted to fit standard TV screens.

VHS Parents Buying More DVDs
Disney has been aggressively courting the family market with DVD for several years, to the point of offering rebates to consumers who buy DVDs of certain animated films if they mail in their old VHS copies.

Internal Disney research indicates DVD is becoming firmly entrenched in the mainstream, Chapek said.

Forty million U.S. households have set-top DVD players and another 20 million households are “DVD-enabled” , chiefly via computer DVD-ROM drives and game consoles that also play DVDs.

By 2006, Disney predicts household set-top player penetration will hit 70 million, with another 59 million “DVD-enabled” households.

The gulf between DVD-purchasing groups is narrowing, Chapek noted. Nonparents bought an average of 7.5 discs in the previous three months, while parents bought an average of 6.4 discs.

“Parents are buying almost as many new DVDs as nonparents, and that's another indicator that the market is going mass on us,” Chapek said.

Disney research also shows 58 percent of parents who buy DVDs are buying the discs for their kids — a finding that bodes well for his studio, Chapek said.

While every studio benefits from DVD's growth, “once you get into the family realm, we have an advantage,” he said.

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