TK Recommends: Tinker Bell’s Magic Empire26 Mar, 2012 By: Thomas K. Arnold
It’s almost a foregone conclusion that with the release this fall of Secret of the Wings, the next film in the enormously successful Disney Fairies series, Walt Disney Studios will have another popular video premiere title on its hands — and one that will again top the sales charts, like every predecessor in the franchise. With Secret of the Wings, however, Disney breaks through with another industry first: the first-ever home video premiere on Blu-ray 3D.
“We’re excited that this all-new feature-length CG-animated adventure with Tinker Bell and her fairy friends is the first direct-to-video title being released on Blu-ray 3D,” said Lori MacPherson, EVP of product management for Walt Disney Studios.
The three prior installments in the series, which was launched in 2008 with Tinker Bell, all have been huge hits, selling millions of copies on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The line is based on the Tinker Bell character, created by J.M. Barrie. Tinker Bell made her Disney debut in the 1953 animated classic Peter Pan, albeit with neither wand nor voice. Since then, Tinker Bell has become one of Disney’s most important branding icons, appearing as a “hostess” in much of Disney’s live-action programming, beginning with 1954’s “Disneyland” and continuing with “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” and other shows. She is also featured in the opening of all Disney films, flying over the Castle, and Disney gave her a voice with the release of the 2008 film. In 2010, Tinker Bell even got her own star on Hollywood Boulevard’s celebrated Walk of Fame.
Disney’s tradition of high-profile voice casting in its DTV titles continues with Secret of the Wings, which features the voices of Academy Award-winner Anjelica Huston, Timothy Dalton and, as the new fairy Periwinkle, Lucy Hale. Returning cast members include Mae Whitman, Lucy Liu, Megan Hilty, Raven-Symoné and others. The film is directed by Peggy Holmes, co-directed by Bobs Gannaway, produced by DisneyToon Studios and executive produced by John Lasseter.
Disney has had huge successes out of building franchises around animated classics and then issuing a series of sequels, years later, that are made expressly for the home-viewing market. The practice began in the middle 1990s with Aladdin and not only established Disney in the home entertainment franchise business, but also jumpstarted the nascent sellthrough business even before the advent of DVD thrust the gates to consumer movie ownership wide open. Long before the first DVD ever appeared in stores, consumers were already building extensive collections of Disney films on videocassette, many of them based on theatrical releases they themselves had watched as kids — and were now introducing to their own children.
“Secret of the Wings joins our consistent and successful line of Disney-branded direct-to-video titles and furthers our commitment to bringing high-quality storytelling to families wherever they enjoy them,” MacPherson said.
The Disney brand certainly helped, but Disney’s success in building franchises goes a lot deeper than mere brand awareness. To sustain a franchise, the quality needs to be top-notch, and observers note that the films in the Disney Fairies line — 2008’s Tinker Bell, 2009’s Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, 2010’s Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue and last year’s Pixie Hollow Games special on The Disney Channel — all have been marked by strong, compelling stories.
Jeanne Hobson, SVP of retail strategy and solutions for Disney Consumer Products, notes, “Secret of the Wings is a great addition to the Disney library and continues our rich heritage of storytelling for the whole family. The movie and the many Disney Fairy-related products create terrific cross-merchandising opportunities for a variety of retail channels and within the company.”
Walt Disney launched the Disney Fairies franchise in 2005 and has since scored successes with more than 1,400 different Disney Fairies and Tinker Bell books published in 33 languages. Visitors from around the world to DisneyFairies.com have created more than 40.5 million Fairies, and the characters also have been integrated into such Disney stalwarts as the theme parks and Ice Shows.
“The Disney Fairies franchise is a phenomenon among our many product lines and businesses in 57 countries worldwide,” Hobson said.
In the new film, Tinker Bell and her fairy friends journey into the forbidden world of the mysterious Winter Woods, where curiosity and adventure lead to an amazing discovery and reveal a magical secret that could change their world forever. Secret of the Wings comes out on Oct. 23, 2012, and will be available in a variety of combo packs including a four-disc package with 2D and 3D Blu-ray versions plus digital copy and two-disc Blu-ray/DVD packages in English and Spanish. A single-disc DVD version also will be available.