Come On, Hollywood, Put An End To DVD Moratoriums

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The closest I'll get to seeing Tron on my tv anytime soon.

One of the real joys of parenting is sharing memories of your childhood with your kids. Whether it’s reading a classic like Goodnight Moon or relaxing with a movie like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, these are truly touching moments. However, certain classic films have been withheld from the public over the years, making it pretty tough for parents to recreate some childhood memories.

The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars and Back to the Future have all been locked away at one point or another. And while they all are available for purchase right now, there are dozens others you can’t find anywhere. Many of these are Disney classics, including Peter Pan, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, Old Yeller and my current source of frustration, Tron.

With Tron:Legacy on the horizon, wouldn’t it make sense to release the original to stir up excitement and re-familiarize us all with the exploits of Flynn, the users and MCP? But the movie’s unavailable to buy and there’s no hint of a release prior to December’s Legacy opening date.

Sure, I could pick up a copy from an Amazon merchant, but prices range from $35 to $150 — far more than the retail price the last time the movie was released. eBay isn’t much better and often includes illegally copied, poor quality disks or imported knockoffs. Tron has been at the top of my Netflix queue for months now, but it’s always out when I return a DVD.

I understand the various studios’ moratoriums. Artificial scarcity creates demand, lines at retailers and a potential boatload of sales once a title is finally released. Disney goes so far as to say that keeping films in the Disney Vault keeps films fresh for a generation of kids, which I suppose it does, but it also excludes kids from seeing classic movies.

Some films have seen a gap of as long as seven years between releases. The time schedule is much shorter now, as brief as 24 months when a DVD can’t be purchased. This might not seem like much, but ask any parent the difference between a 6 year old’s and an 8 year old’s tastes and the answer is simple: huge. I know my kids have missed out on more than one Disney classic, simply because we couldn’t find a copy in the limited window when they were interested in those stories.

In a sense, moratoriums that studios like Disney and others use made sense when the market was dominated by physical products – tapes and disks. But now that so much media has gone digital and is available on-demand, this practice stands out as antiquated, in addition to being annoying. But as long as people queue up on release day, expect nothing to change. Just don’t expect to see me.

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