It's a 'Jungle' out there for BVHE

Platinum DVD will mark 40th anniversary

When Buena Vista Home Entertainment releases a lavish two-disc Platinum Edition" DVD of "The Jungle Book" on the animated classic's 40th anniversary Oct. 2, expect an army of shoppers to invade stores.

The supplier has pegged just 14 animated feature films from the rich Walt Disney library for Platinum Edition treatment, and "Jungle Book" is No. 10. As with the other DVDs in the high-end series, the movie has been subjected to a spectacular restoration and comes packed with all-new bonus features, including a new suite of games, deleted scenes and songs as well as a retrospective feature with Bruce Reitherman, the voice of Mowgli.

On top of that, the DVD release will be accompanied by an array of "Jungle Book"-themed consumer products so that big retailers will be able to create dedicated "Jungle Book" sections in their stores.

"Maximizing the assets in our vast library begins with the studio's philosophy that centers around delivering great entertainment that appeals to all demographics," said Bob Chapek, president of Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment. "The fact that the Platinum Edition titles accomplish the sales that they do directly speaks to the success of that philosophy while celebrating the timeless appeal of Disney classics."

Indeed. Each March and again in October, a new two-disc Platinum Edition DVD of an animated classic is shipped to retailers. Invariably, it tops the sales chart and sells millions of copies, often beating a hot new feature film fresh from a profitable theatrical run.

This month, the Platinum Edition of "Pinocchio," which debuted in theaters in 1953, gave the recent theatrical blockbuster "Borat" a serious run for its money in stores when both titles came out the same day. In October, the Platinum Edition of "The Little Mermaid," a big-screen hit in 1989, sold 4 million copies in a single week. In October 2003, "The Lion King" sold 3 million DVDs in two days; in October 2001, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the first Platinum Edition DVD Buena Vista released, became the first DVD to sell 1 million units in a single day.

Lori MacPherson, GM North America at Buena Vista, said picking the right movie is critical. "Not every movie is part of the Platinum Edition Collection," she said. "We take the crown jewels from the Disney vault, and then we spare no effort in making sure they are remastered and restored so they look as fantastic as if they had been made today."

The 14 titles in the Platinum Edition collection were carefully chosen after much consumer research, MacPherson said. Initially, just one release was planned for each year, but after scoring big with "Snow White," "Beauty and the Beast," "Lion King" and "Aladdin," it was decided to double up and release another Platinum Edition in March, beginning with "Bambi" in 2005.

"We wanted to make sure we had given everyone a chance to own all of them during the prime DVD era," MacPherson said.