Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites Vols. 1–4
Imagine the scenario: Mom plunks her kid in front of the Starring Mickey DVD; FastPlay starts the disc up right away, and runs through all seven shorts. But when they're over, rather than going straight into the trailers shilling for other DVDs, FastPlay instead takes the captive young viewer to a zippy, entertaining documentary that talks about how the cartoons were made. And maybe at the end of that, the voiceover can mention that you can watch some of the cartoons on the disc with an audio commentary and learn more fun and interesting facts.
This is no different from what Walt Disney used to do. By occasionally pulling back the curtain to reveal how cartoons were made, he didn't diminish their magic; rather, he made them more awe-inspiring. If Disney were to do something like that now, they would be creating and nurturing a new generation of fans—ones who, interest piqued, would go on to buy the more expensive collections later in life.
This isn't as far-fetched as it seems. I was recently watching the tiresome Felix the Cat Saves Christmas with my 15-year-old niece who, despite my indoctrination attempts during her earlier years, isn't more of an animation fan than any other girl her age. But during one particularly idiotic sequence, she said something out of the blue: "I like the black and white Felix cartoons much better."
It was the last thing I expected to hear and I didn't entirely believe it. When I asked, she simply shrugged and said she thought they were funnier. She was surprised to learn how old the Felix character was and when I described one of the early silent shorts, she laughed her head off.
Kids, we should remember, are very curious creatures. Give them a reason and they'll happily explore the most obscure things. The smart thing to do would be to exploit that and create a whole new fan base. Unfortunately, at Disney they don't seem to be interested in doing that. And by focusing only on tying in to next month's DVD releases, they're only weakening themselves in the long run.