If you’re anything like me, you’ll love Disney. No matter how old you get there’s something timeless about their best movies. Embarrassing or not, I am every bit as emotionally invested in Beauty and the Beast now as I was when I was three…if not even more so!
But, being Money Magpies, we have also spotted an opportunity to make a little money from Disney films. Disney release their classics every seven to ten years before putting them back in the ‘Disney vault’. This is a controversial marketing system which results in high demand for the Disney classics and artificially inflates the price of previously released editions. For example, the 3D blu-ray Diamond Edition of Beauty and the Beast is now retailing on Amazon at £74.99…yes, £74.99, and it was only released in October 2011!
Here’s our guide to making money from the Disney Vault.
The ‘Disney Vault’, for those not in the know, is the term used by Disney Studios to describe their practice of restricting the availability of certain home releases. Disney have been doing similar things since their beginnings as a film studio. Before home releases existed they would often re-release their animated features in cinemas, for example they re-released Snow White, first released in 1937, in 1944.
Since the birth of home entertainment Disney has extended this practice, only releasing a certain number of copies and then waiting seven to ten years before re-releasing it again (and, in fact, this hasn’t stopped them re-releasing classics in cinemas either. Both Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King got recent 3D cinema releases).
This marketing strategy has angered some people who claim it’s a cynical way to create demand for Disney classics. However, this process also helps keep the classics feel like a big deal. Releasing them sparingly ensures that the movies are a brand new experience for the children watching them.
Ultimately, though, the Disney Vault is good for you because you can buy a Disney classic at a reasonably low price, and then sell it on at a much higher price.
Obviously prices for the various releases will vary but you could expect to make back three times the price you paid for it. The most obvious example at the moment is Beauty and the Beast blu-ray 3D Diamond Edition which Amazon is selling at £74.99. On release that would have cost no-more than £24.99, and it only came out in October 2011. It has tripled its value in less than three years.
The 2D version of the same set is being sold by Amazon for £42.80. This would have originally retailed somewhere between £15-20.
Other blu-rays that would have retailed at £15-20 include Snow White Diamond Edition blu-ray, which is currently £29.99 on Amazon, and the Sleeping Beauty Platinum Edition blu-ray which is currently priced at £49.99. Even The Lion King trilogy, which would have retailed at £20-30 in Nov 2011, is already priced at £46.91.
These are early days: those releases are only a few years old. As copies continue to get rarer and demand continues to grow, the value will continue to increase.
Like all investing though, there is some risk. VHS and DVD copies of Disney classics that were fetching upwards of £50 (some closer to £100) a few years ago radically devalued when Disney announced a blu-ray and DVD re-release, and are, for now at least, essentially worthless.
Firstly it is important to remember that not every Disney film is part of the vault scheme. Later Disney releases like Hercules, Mulan and Brother Bear, for example, don’t operate under this scheme and neither do the more modern Disney films such as Tangled and Frozen.
It is also important to remember that not every film will be as desired as others. Classics like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King are likely to be in higher demand than a moderate success like Pocahontas.
Platinum and Diamond Editions are the safest bet for good returns in the future, although that doesn’t rule out returns on regular editions. Blu-rays seem to be gaining value quicker than DVDs (probably because fewer are produced) and blu-ray/DVD combo packs even more so (and if you can get your hands on a 3D copy of a classic, you’re quids in!).
Frustratingly Disney don’t do many combo packs for the UK, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of buying one from America. If it’s not region free it may not work in the UK but if you’re planning on reselling it new then that shouldn’t matter.
At the moment a lot of Disney films are out of the vault and being sold cheaply, so it’s the perfect time to consider investing in a few films. It’s never possible to guarantee you’ll make a return but if we were to invest in a few Disney films at the moment we’d go with something like Cinderella Diamond Edition blu-ray (£10), Bambi Diamond Edition Double Play blu-ray (£13.88) or Pinocchio three disk Platinum Edition blu-ray (£12.99). They are all cheap at the moment, all classics and all special editions so they should go up in value over the next few years.
And there you have it, an easy way to make a bit of money. In fact it might even be a nice way to teach your kids the basics about investment. Just remember to buy a copy for yourself as well, the last thing you want is to have to choose between not seeing a favourite Disney movie for years or not making a profit…for me, the Disney movie always wins!