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Dig This! Millions of Disney Videos

Scott Jenkins reviews Timing for Animation by Harold Whitaker and John Halas. Now in its eighth printingthere might be something to this book!

The home video market's enormous success has played a key role in transforming the world into a global village. You may find yourself traveling to far and remote villages where standards of living may be radically different to what you are accustomed to, but even in such places, you are very likely to come across the one and only neon sign that advertises "VIDEO." This rapidly growing multi-billion dollar industry is in desperate need of a system to track the top-performing video rentals and sales on an international basis. The limited data that exists indicates that animation -- specifically Disney's animation -- has consistently placed among the top video rentals and sales. According to the 1995 International Television and Video Almanac, children's videos account for 41% of the Australian home video market. Screen Digest (Dec. 1997) cites animation cornering 64% of the European home video market. A survey of the 1989 Italian Top Ten Video Sales lists the following titles:

1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

2. Pinocchio

3. The Sword in the Stone

4. Goofy's Vacation

5. Donald Duck and His Ugly Ducklings

6. Mary Poppins

7. Mickey Mouse

8. Chippendale [Chip And Dale] Adventure

9. From All Of Us To All Of You

10. U2: Rattle and Hum

Source: 1990 International Television and Video Almanac

Even though this survey is almost ten years old (prior to Disney's recent series of hits starting with Little Mermaid), it attests to the studio's consistent track record. As if the nine out of ten titles being Disney features in Italy is not impressive enough, see the U.K. List of All Time Top Rental Videos:

1. The Jungle Book


The Jungle Book is the U.K.'s all time # 1 video rental. © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

2. The Lion King

3. Fantasia

4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

5. Beauty and the Beast

6. Aladdin

7. Bambi

8. River Dance - The Show

9. Peter Pan

10. The Aristocats

Source: 1997 International Television and Video Almanac

A similar trend exists in the U.S. market in the domain of video sales. Video Store Magazine's Top 100 Sell-through Titles between 1992-1997 covers the genres of family, drama, comedy, romance, sci-fi, action and animation. The dominating category is the family pictures classification with 35 titles. Animation comes in a close second with 30 listings. Disney's animated features account for 25 of these titles. However, out of these 25, six are in the all time top ten. Here is the U.S. Top Ten Sell-through List of Videos:

1. The Lion King


Over half of the Disney Studio's overall revenue is generated by home videos. The latest sure-fire money-maker is The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, which was released direct-to-video on October 27. © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

3. Aladdin

4. Independence Day

5. Jurassic Park

6. Toy Story

7. Beauty and the Beast

8. (tie) Men in Black

8. (tie) Pocahontas

10. Star Wars Trilogy

Source: Video Store Magazine (July 11, 1998)

According to the Daily News (June 7, 1998) over half of the Disney Studio's overall revenue is generated by home videos. This fact is only confirmed by the above lists. All over the world Disney is selling millions of video tapes. A significant second is MCA/Universal projects such as the Land Before Time original and sequels, and An American Tale series which have had their share of success as Best Selling Holiday Videos. It would be illuminating to compare the U.S., U.K. and Italian data with that of other countries. A comparison with Japan would be of particular interest since that country has its very own lucrative and thriving animation industry. Presently, most articles addressing the international market tend to focus on specific areas such as the country's population, number of TVs at home, number of VCRs ,video prices, average number of titles released, number of legal Home Video Distributors and an estimated piracy level. Indeed, it is very difficult to track any information without first ascertaining the answers to these questions. This information may be readily available in some countries, and simply require translation. We would like to invite readers who have access to reliable sources that list a country's top performing rental and video sales information to participate in our fact-finding mission by sending an e-mail to: Hopefully, we can explore further into this territory and bring you updates as we uncover new grounds. Zahra Dowlatabadi is currently co-writing a book with Catherine Winder entitled How To Produce Animation. Zahra's most recent credit is that of associate producer on Warner Bros. Feature Animation Quest For Camelot.

What else should we dig? Every month, Animation World Magazine will highlight the most interesting, exciting happenings in animation, in "Dig This!" Send us your ideas, suggestions, videos, products or works-in-progress today. You dig?