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This is important for several reasons. First of all, it’s about preservation of the Disney name. The more Disney allows copies of their movies to languish on video store shelves, just waiting for their prices to drop, the more people will begin to see them as just another movie. This can be seen happening with several other wonderful animated films that are available on video. Once a best-selling video, the DVD of Don Bluth and Gary Goldman’s Anastasia now sells for $9.99 at my local Target stores. Titan A.E. has dropped in price and The Prince Of Egypt will be there shortly. It will likely be only a matter of years before these DVDs hit the $6.99 discount bins. Here are these masterpieces with mega-financial potential losing their luster on store shelves. Again, people respond to these films as special because Disney treats them as such. Once Disney fails to do so, people will fail to respond.

As these films lose their luster, so might the art form. As The Rescuers Down Under drifts off the "Best Seller" shelves and into the kiddie flick section, so much more will people categorize it as such. As The Aristocats lowers in price, it will never get special write ups in Entertainment Weekly with rapper Snoop Dog giving it praise. As the respect of these films diminish when their best-selling status gets lost, the respect given to the other Disney animated masterpieces will fall as well.

As someone who loves Disney movies, it’s also about the respect given to the specific films and the potential this may have on products in the future. If The Fox and the Hound sits on shelves with a lowering price, it no longer becomes perceived as special. As a result of this, chances of future merchandising gets lost (and, therefore, options for collectors to buy that merchandise), chances of future special editions with extras gets lost, and the chance for theatrical reissue gets lost. But most importantly, these special pieces of cinematic magic become viewed as another kiddie film, not a superior work of art worthy of respect and an art worthy of continuation.

Chances are, Disney has allowed this trend to occur to boost video sales from over-saturation of the market, the loss of new classics to release for the first time or the loss of titles to release for the first time in many years. Perhaps once stockholders perceive a change in the company’s fortunes, these films will gain their special status again. Unfortunately, the future option of cashing in on these films may also be weakened. In order for the films to be released again for the "first time in a generation," they actually have to be gone for a generation, giving time for copies to get lost, destroyed, or whatever. And if a title sits on shelves for eight years, with the prices lowering gradually, selling a trillion DVDs at $12.99 earns the studio far less money than selling a trillion DVDs at $19.99.

Disney’s works have always been set apart by their quality and by how Disney demanded their work be respected. But with the current trends, Disney may be sliding down a slippery slope that other studios follow, tainting their future earning potential and the Disney name. After all, a prince is only a prince so long as his kingdom declares him so.

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-- Jim Miles

A graduate of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Jim Miles is an educator, play director, and writer. Recently, he produced a workshop reading for Fire in Berlin, an original musical work for which he is writing the book and lyrics (www.fireinberlin.com). In addition to his column for LaughingPlace.com, he is currently revising an untitled literary mystery/suspense novel; is working on a second musical work, a comedy entitled City of Dreams; and has developed a third musical work which he has yet to announce. After having created theatre curriculum and directed at the high school level, he also writes and directs plays and skits for his church. 

Jim On Film is published every other Thursday.

The opinions expressed by our guest columnists, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future of Disneyland and the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted April 25, 2003

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