BURBANK, Calif. -- DVD got a big endorsement from Walt Disney Co. here last week when Richard Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, announced that nine Disney animations would be released on DVD over the next four months.
, told the Wall Street Journal last week, "We're a hair breadth away from DVD exploding."
To date, Disney's support of the DVD platform was limited to some live-action titles and the computer-animated "A Bug's Life," which the company notes is the second top-selling DVD title, behind "Armageddon." According to media sources, Disney had been reluctant to release its animated titles and "Masterpiece" animated films to DVD because of the platform's newness and small market.
"Pinocchio," which became the studio's first animated classic to be released as a sell-through video back in 1985, will again make history as the first Disney Video Disc classic to be released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, on Oct. 26.
Other DVD animation titles to be released as part of a once-in-a-millennium celebration include: "101 Dalmatians," "Hercules" and "Mulan," Nov. 11; "Lady and the Tramp," "Peter Pan" and "Simba's Pride (Lion King II)," Nov. 23; and ''The Jungle Book" and ''The Little Mermaid," Dec. 7.
Each of the titles will be available for a limited 60-day time period, and most of the offerings will then be placed on moratorium for up to 10 years.
The Disney Video Discs will prominently feature full-color character artwork screened directly onto the top of the discs to assist even the youngest viewers in using them correctly with the picture side up.
All the DVD releases will be presented in their original theatrical aspect ratios and in Dolby Digital or Dolby Surround sound. Foreign-language supplemental tracks will also be included on all nine titles.
Commenting on the announcement, Cook said: "With nearly 15 million households expected to have a set-top DVD player or a computer capable of playing DVDs by the end of the year, we think this is a great time to offer these animated classics on DVD and a great way to mark the millennium.
"These nine titles will give today's generation a unique opportunity to begin a DVD library with some of the most popular Disney films of all time.
"The DVD market has exploded with the release of such action-oriented and event titles as our own 'Armageddon' and the proven popularity of Disney favorites like 'Mary Poppins' and 'Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Christmas.'
"This year, 'A Bug's Life' became the second-best-selling title, behind 'Armageddon,' and dramatically demonstrated the growth of the family fare for the broadening DVD market. DVDs are an exciting new way to present our filmed entertainment in a format that is practical, versatile and economical."