Good Riddance to the Disney Vault, Bane of Moms 


Disney’s CEO has confirmed that the company’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+, will eventually include its full catalog of animated movies—meaning that someday soon, “the Vault” will be dead. Moms will dance with joy upon its grave.

For those who’ve never slammed into its locked door while trying to revisit a childhood classic, the vault is a long-running strategy by Disney to limit availability of its movies and therefore keep demand stoked. Rather than staying on shelves in perpetuity, the company would put releases into their theoretical “vault” so you could only buy them for a limited time.

Hence one year, my mother drove all over middle Georgia, searching determinedly for a VHS copy of The Little Mermaid for my cousin for Christmas. It’s still going, even in the age of streaming: in a parenting milestone, I recently turned to eBay in sheer desperation to get my kid into literally anything other than “Little Baby Bum.” The weirdest part of this strategy is that they aggressively merchandise even those princesses whose movies you can’t currently purchase. So you can get Princess Aurora pajamas, but you have to buy the Sleeping Beauty DVD from some reseller and hope you’re getting the real thing. It’s ridiculous!!! You can’t even get Cinderella on DVD right now. Cinderella!

Anyway, that’s all done—ding dong, the Vault is dead, as long as you are willing to fork over the money for Disney’s streaming platform once it launches, date TBD. The Verge reported that CEO Bob Igor informed shareholders that the service “at some point fairly soon after launch” will have movies that “traditionally have been kept in a ‘vault’ and brought out basically every few years.” The site explained:

That’s a major policy change for the company, which, until now, has deliberately created artificial shortages of its films via extremely limited re-releases. For example, a movie like 101 Dalmatians would have been available to purchase during its initial home release run before being placed in “the vault” for a lengthy period. Disney initiated the practice as a way to control its own market and drive up demand whenever it did release a new edition of an old classic. But the policy has led to frustrated customers, who often have to pay a high premium for used Blu-rays or DVDs of the films that aren’t available at any given moment. The tradition carried through to Disney’s digital distribution platforms, too. For instance, even with Disney’s live-action Aladdin coming soon, the animated film is unavailable for streaming or digital purchase.

Fine! I’ll pay whatever it takes! Just please give me something with an actual narrative! I can’t take anymore YouTube cartoons!

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