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Disney Classics Pump Up Blu-ray Catalog

28 Aug, 2008 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Beauty and the Beast

The Blu-ray Disc juggernaut continues, with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment announcing it will release five more Platinum Collection animated classics on Blu-ray Disc.

The quintet includes Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which opened in theaters in 1937 and is the first of Disney’s acclaimed, hand-drawn animated features. Also in the pipeline are Pinocchio, Fantasia, Fantasia 2000 and Beauty and the Beast.

Each will be available for a limited time only in new multidisc sets featuring hours of bonus materials and rare behind-the-scenes footage.

Disney is launching its Platinum Collection line on Blu-ray Disc with Sleeping Beauty, which will be released Oct. 7.

“The landscape for the Blu-ray format is very healthy,” said Bob Chapek, worldwide president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. “We believe that the enhanced movie experiences that the format provides, such as Disney’s BD Live network, offer consumers the chance to reinvent the experience of watching movies in their homes. And the interactivity and connectivity that is being provided will truly make the family room relevant again.”

Disney is launching its next-generation BD Live network, which offers a variety of Web-enabled features such as chat rooms and video messaging, in the United States only with Sleeping Beauty. The network will go live worldwide in the fall of 2009 with Snow White.

Of the five new Blu-ray Disc releases, Pinocchio will be first out of the gate, coming in spring 2009. Snow White is next, followed in 2010 by Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. In conjunction with these releases, Disney will issue Destino, the unfinished animated feature film created by Walt Disney and famed surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Begun in 1946, the rare film was rediscovered in 2003 and completed by Walt Disney’s nephew, Roy E. Disney.

Bringing up the rear is Beauty and the Beast, the only animated film ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The film will be available as a Blu-ray Disc Platinum Collection release in fall 2010.

Similarly to the “Godfather” trilogy, hitting Blu-ray Disc Sept. 23, only two years after Blu-ray’s launch, the Disney classics are coming to Blu-ray fast. Titles such as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty were originally released on DVD in 2001 and 2003, respectively, years after DVD’s launch in 1997.

“Releasing our Platinum Classics on any format signals our belief that we’re ready for mass adoption,” Chapek said. “It is our belief that Disney BD Live Network isn’t a niche market, and it’s a technology that will certainly drive to make the family room relevant again.”

A Disney representative said the Platinum Editions will likely be available on DVD as well, although no specific plans have been announced.

Additionally, Disney will release Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy on Blu-ray Disc Sept. 16 at $82.99. The six-disc set will include all three “Pirates” films, but will not add any new bonus material to the original Blu-ray Disc releases.

Additional reporting by Billy Gil.

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