Disney doubles disc choices

Home entertainment unit to offer DVD, Blu-ray

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment next month will become the second studio to deploy two classes of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

June releases “Morning Light,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and “Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience” will be released in premium versions with value-added material for the retail market and bare bones offerings for rental, according to retail and distribution executives.

Disney follows 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, which began differentiating between rental and sell-through discs with the March 31 titles “Marley and Me” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

There are two major differences between the Disney and Fox programs, however. Disney will price rental versions at a lower price than features-laden sell-through discs. Fox charges the same for both versions. And whereas Fox dictates which configuration retailers may buy, Disney will make either version available to rentailers so that stores can still rent out the titles with bonus features if they choose to stock the higher-priced version.

Recently, Disney has also offered less expensive, movie-only Blu-ray versions of “Bolt” and “Bedtime Stories” to rental stores.

Beginning with the June releases, Disney will handle standard DVD in the same fashion, making available a “rental ready” version on many titles. The rental units are not shrink-wrapped and have no promotional inserts inside the box.

Disney executives declined to comment on the strategy.

Rentailers are generally not fans of the Fox program, which has gotten off to a rocky start. Amazon.com and other retailers received the rental version of “Slumdog,” with no bonus features, inside retail packaging.Fox is reviewing its policy, at least for library accounts, following an outcry over the studio’s enforcement of the two class system.

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