Friday, September 30, 2016

The Walt Disney Signature Collection, Detailed

It seems like we have a good idea of what the Walt Disney Signature Collection is really going to be like...

Earlier, I had questioned what it would be like.

Would the line be a carbon copy of the Platinum and Diamond Edition collections? Or would it have some kind of consistency? It seemed as if this set of titles would focus on the Walt films, and films that Walt had attempted. Beauty and the Beast was a story that Walt looked into during the 1930s, and again in the 1950s. The Blu-ray release of the film arrived just in time for its 25th Anniversary, and to also coincide with the live-action remake that's opening in March.

Well, with a site up and running, it appears that the "Walt Disney" Signature Collection will be the Platinum/Diamond series all over again... But with a few little tweaks...

Starting off, here is their statement...

"The Walt Disney Signature Collection includes groundbreaking films created or inspired by the imagination and legacy of Walt Disney, featuring timeless stories and characters that have touched generations."

So that's how they're going to justify Aladdin and The Lion King being part of the line...

Now if you look at the vaulted titles that will be in this line, you'll notice two titles that did not get Diamond Editions: Pinocchio and Fantasia.

Fantasia is interesting because in 2000, it was given tip-top DVD treatment. We got an excellent box set titled "The Fantasia Anthology", which had the original and the follow-up, and was jam-packed with bonus features. A year later, Walt Disney Home Entertainment launched the Platinum Edition collection with the 2001 DVD release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The set was pretty much taking cues from Fantasia, so Fantasia in a way started the Platinum collection before the name was concocted by the company.

The Platinum line ran from 2001 to 2009. Before the line's close in March of 2009, Disney had upgraded to Blu-ray. The final two Platinum titles, Sleeping Beauty (October 2008) and Pinocchio (March 2009), were released simultaneously on Blu-ray and DVD. The line's successor, the Diamond Collection, was set to bring the rest of the Platinum movies to Blu-ray, in all-new editions.

The original press release stated that Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 would be part of this line, given how well that title had sold over the years, how special it is as a work of cinema, and because of how many bonus features it would require. On New Year's Day, 2010, we were promised a big lavish set with the short subjects that were supposed to form a scrapped third Fantasia... That release was delayed, and then for some reason, Disney decided to rechristen it a "70th Anniversary Edition". All but one of the Fantasia 2006 shorts were dropped, and tons of bonuses were put on the internet-based Virtual Vault, which Disney closed down... So you were left with a set that was severely lacking.

When you load up the Fantasia Blu-ray in a PlayStation 3 or any Blu-ray player that gives you the title of the disc and not "BD-ROM", it's called Fantasia Diamond Edition. It shows that the banner change came at the very last minute...

(This had also happened when the film was being prepared for VHS and LaserDisc under the Classics line in 1991. The artwork doesn't have the Diamond anywhere, and the heading is "Walt Disney's Masterpiece" instead of "Walt Disney's Classic"... But pop in the tape, the film is preceded by the 1989 Walt Disney Classics logo!)

Everything else went along swimmingly, until the line unexpectedly came to a close last year with Aladdin. No Pinocchio Diamond Edition... The Signature line fired up this past February with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in a Blu-ray release that was quite watered down from the excellent Diamond Edition set.

On the site, Pinocchio and Fantasia are listed (no Fantasia 2000, but anything can change), so for now they are set to be Signature Collection titles...

So the big question... What order? What's next after Beauty and the Beast?

Following the Diamond trajectory, we should get two titles every calendar year: One in the spring, one in the autumn...

It's been suggested by some that the line will follow the order of Disney's remakes of their animated classics. Seems about right, for - again - the remake of Beauty and the Beast comes out in March. The Blu-ray set arrived earlier this month because the film turns 25 in November.

The problem is, we don't quite know what order the animated classic remakes will come out in. Disney had locked the dates for these films, but didn't say which films were opening on each date. In development are the following...

Pinocchio - in some form of development
Night on Bald Mountain - in some form of development

Dumbo - Tim Burton attached to direct, Ehren Kruger set to write
Peter Pan - David Lowery attached to direct
Tink - has writers, Reese Witherspoon set to play Tinker Bell
Maleficent 2 - Angelina Jolie set to reprise role
Cruella - Emma Stone set to star, writers attached
Sword in the Stone - in some form of development
Winnie the Pooh - in some form of development
The Jungle Book 2 - most likely in active development
The Black Cauldron - in some form of development
The Little Mermaid - in some form of development
Genies - in some form of development
The Lion King - just announced, Jon Favreau set to direct
Mulan - in some form of development

Now, out of all these films, the ones that appear to be moving ahead are Dumbo, Tink, Maleficent 2, Cruella, The Jungle Book 2, and The Lion King...

So using the pre-established release dates, the live-action slate *could* look like this...


But things get a bit muddy here... Those dates were locked for titles specifically referred to as "Untitled Live-Action Disney Fairy Tale". An "Untitled Disney Live-Action" is set for 8/3/2018, and it's probably going to be a film that isn't inspired by a Disney animated classic. Something like Jungle Cruise or A Wrinkle in Time, though that arguably could qualify as a sci-fi fairy tale. The live-action Nutcracker and the Four Realms likely falls under the fairy-tale label, sooooo here's a rough idea based on what's been said...

04/06/2018 - Dumbo
11/02/2018 - Tink
03/29/2019 - The Jungle Book 2
11/08/2019 - Maleficent 2
12/20/2019 - The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Summer 2020 - The Lion King

With that, The Lion King wouldn't be out on Blu-ray until spring 2020! That would be 7 years after the Diamond Edition went into the vault, which fits the vault strategy quite well. (7-10 years...)

The original video release of The Lion King vaulted in 1997. DVD came in 2003. 6 year wait...
The DVD release of The Lion King vaulted in 2005. Diamond came in 2011. 6 year wait...

So another six years, The Lion King would return to home media in 2019. Going by my theoretical chart, that would line up nicely, the release could promote the remake... But given other titles, it may end up in 2020.

But things get muddy again... Sleeping Beauty's Diamond Edition has yet to vault. If it vaults in spring 2017, then if it comes out again in time for Maleficent 2 - going by the fall 2019 date, the wait for it wouldn't have been too long...

So I think the schedule will and will not line up with the remakes... That is, if the movies even come out in that order. It's really all up in the air!

So, a tentative prediction from yours truly...

With this timeline...

Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and The Little Mermaid vault next spring
101 Dalmatians and Aladdin vault in spring 2018

  • Fall 2017 - Bambi - 5 years since vault, 75th Anniversary Edition
  • Spring 2018 - Pinocchio - 7 years since vault
  • Fall 2018 - Fantasia - 7 years since vault
  • Spring 2019 - Lady and the Tramp - 6 years since vault
  • Fall 2019 - Peter Pan - 5 years since vault
  • Spring 2020 - The Lion King - 7 years since vault
  • Fall 2020 - Sleeping Beauty - 6 years since vault
  • Spring 2021 - Cinderella - 4 years since vault
  • Fall 2021 - The Little Mermaid - 4 years since vault
  • Spring 2022 - 101 Dalmatians - 4 years since vault
  • Fall 2022 - Aladdin - 4 years since vault

Who knows how it'll all play out, or what home media formats are even out in 2022...


  1. If you didn't already watch the new bonus features for "Beauty and the Beast", one of them provides another justification for an "Aladdin" Signature Edition: A list shown of projects Walt greenlit, but never finished, includes a movie based on "Aladdin", and one based on "Arabian Nights".

  2. Sleeping Beauty is already back in the Disney Vault
    Pinocchio will be coming out Spring 2017 and I expect Bambi coming in the fall 2017

  3. Hey, what about The Jungle Book? Aren't you forgetting that?