BV inaugurates Disney Legacy sets

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The Walt Disney Co. is launching a new DVD line honoring its famous founder.

The Walt Disney Legacy Collection will spotlight films from the Disney archives that the late Walt Disney personally had a hand in creating.

First up: The "True-Life Adventures" films, a series of 13 animal and nature movies that will be released on DVD Dec. 5, the 105th anniversary of Disney's birth. The films were released between 1948 and 1960 and won a total of eight Academy Awards.

Disney reportedly got the idea for "True-Life Adventures" when he saw research footage of deer that had been prepared for "Bambi." The first film, "Seal Island," was snubbed by RKO -- at the time Disney's theatrical distributor -- and led Disney and brother Roy O. Disney to form their own distribution company, Buena Vista.

The fledgling film distributor's first release was "The Living Desert," best remembered for a battle between a pepsis wasp and a tarantula, which won Disney its first Oscar for best documentary and in its initial theatrical release brought in $5 million on an investment of $500,000.

Other films in the series include "White Wilderness," "Vanishing Prairie," "Water Birds," "Beaver Valley," "Bear Country" and "Nature's Half Acre."

The 13 films have been fully restored and will be presented in four two-disc volumes with collectible packaging and extensive bonus materials. Each volume includes introductions from Roy E. Disney, nephew of Walt Disney and son of Roy O. Disney, who was one of the series' original filmmakers. Roy E. Disney also hosts six segments in which he interviews wildlife specialists at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The 500-acre theme park, part of the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando, Fla., is considered an offshoot of the "True-Life Adventures" films.

The younger Disney said some of his "first and fondest production experiences were on these wonderful films, so they're very close to my heart." Disney said it's appropriate that the "True-Life Adventures" films are being released on his uncle's birthday "because it was Walt's love of nature that inspired him to pioneer this new form of filmmaking."

Subsequent releases in the Collection for 2007 and beyond will be announced at a later date.
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