For anyone who’s ever felt the frustration of not being able to watch an old Disney classic like Dumbo, or even a more recent one like Zootopia, on anything other than a dusty old DVD or Blu-ray disk, the studio is about to help you out.
At an investor meeting today, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced that the entire Disney catalog, or “Disney Vault” will be available on the company’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+, when it launches later this year. This means that subscribers will be able to simply scroll through and stream everything from Snow White to Mary Poppins (old and new) to Frozen.
The move marks a dramatic marketing shift for Disney, which has used the vault to build up expectation and hoopla for classic titles that it rolls out very sparingly from decade to decade. Once a new release sells through on DVD and Blu-ray, Disney has always locked them up again until another event, such as an anniversary, merits a rerelease.<
But in today's world, where consumers are accustomed to watching whatever they want to watch, whenever they want to watch it, a practice that's been codified by companies like Netflix, Disney's vault strategy feels antiquated. Releasing its hundreds of classic titles will also be a way to generate subscribers for Disney+, which though ahead of the streaming game when compared to other Hollywood studios, is still arriving years after companies like Netflix and Amazon have staked their claim and grown their audiences in the OTT world. Netflix currently has more than 139 million subscribers; Amazon's top 100 million. So far, no release date for Disney's service has been announced, nor any pricing information.
Disney+ will combine Disney library content with exclusive new projects, such as a live-action Star Wars series called The Mandalorian, which Jon Favreau is directing, and a TV series based on High School Musical. Content from Marvel, Pixar, and NatGeo will also be on the service. Iger said that new theatrical releases will find their home on Disney+ within a year of their debut.