Buena Vista inaugurates Walt Disney Legacy sets

Collection honors studio founder

The Walt Disney Co. is launching a DVD line honoring its famous founder. The Walt Disney Legacy Collection will spotlight films from the 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 on Dec. 5, the 105th anniversary of Disney's birth. The films were released between 1948-60 and won eight Oscars.

Disney reportedly got the idea for "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," "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, is considered an offshoot of the "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." He said it is appropriate that the "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."
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