When Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, goes live later this year, it will have a lot to offer. There will be new series set in the Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universes. New theatrical films from the studio will be showing up to stream within the space of a year of their initial release. But Disney is also very cognizant that one of the main draws of subscribers will be the company’s back catalog being available for home viewing at anytime.
The announcement came from Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger speaking yesterday at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting. According to Deadline –
After announcing that all 2019 film releases, beginning with this weekend’s Captain Marvel, would be available exclusively on Disney+, Iger also said the “entire Walt Disney motion picture library” would be on the platform. He didn’t rattle off titles, but emphasized that “the pictures that were in the vault will be on the service,” in addition to original titles.
Previously, Disney would re-release a number of their classic animated films such as Bambi and Sleeping Beauty for a limited time, first in theaters and then latter on home video.
And while that certainly sounds great, and I am sure that there will be plenty of material from the studio’s decades-long output, not every single thing in Disney’s vault is going to make it onto Disney+. There are a few things locked away that Disney has no intention of letting back out in the wild and quite probably are hoping you have forgotten even existed.
The most obvious exclusion will be 1946’s Song Of The South, the company’s first feature length combination of live action and animation. Based on the stories of Joel Chandler Harris the film has come under criticism over concerns of African-American stereotypes. Although set in the post-Civil War, Reconstructionist south, many have still find the film’s portrayal of freed slaves somewhat problematic. Walt Disney’s nephew Roy Disney, was a vocal proponent for releasing the film framed within a context that talked about the attitudes of the time the film was made versus the present day. Song Of The South has never been released in the US on any form of home video, although Japan did get a laserdisc release which is the source of all the bootleg versions floating around online. The last time it was in theaters was in 1986.
For similar reasons, don’t expect the studio’s classic Fantasia to be present on the channel in its original, unedited form.In the Pastoral sequence of the animated anthology of European classical music there is a rather infamous sequence with a number of centaurs, including one black one, Sunflower, with a rather offensive, stereotypical design. For a 1969 re-release of the film Disney just cut the footage featuring the centaur out, but for the film’s 1990 and 2000 re-release on home video, the shots were retain, but zoomed in on to crop out the centaur. (The sudden drop in picture quality is quite noticeable.) Disney stated that the release was “The Original Uncut Version” of the film, implying that the zoom-cropping did not shorten the film. However, even though the runtime has remained intact, the film still does have its content edited. This YouTube video compares the uncut iriginal version with the edits made for re-release.
Another film that Disney is probably not to keen on people seeing is the documentary The Sweatbox. Directed by Trudie Styler and John-Paul Davidson, the film is a behind the scenes look at the production of the animated feature Kingdom Of The Sun. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, than perhaps you know the title that the film was eventually released under, The Emperor’s New Groove. But the journey the film took was a long and troubled one as Disney execs were not happy with a rough cut of the original story idea and ordered the entire project gutted and reworked. It does not present those Disney execs – specifically Thomas Schumacher and Peter Schneider – in anything remotely resembling a flattering light.