Where Has 'Tron' Gone?

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Byline: Ramin Setoodeh

Has anybody seen Tron lately? Not the new Tron: Legacy--with its reported $170 million budget, it's impossible to miss all the billboards--but Disney's original 1982 film. It's not available on iTunes, at Borders, or even at the Disney Store. On eBay, the movie is fetching as much as $200, and a spokesman for Netflix says it's run out of copies (a rare occurrence).

Disney has always played hide-and-seek with its titles to create pent-up demand. But to hide from an original movie right before a gigantic sequel comes out seems like insanely bad business. Unless, of course, that movie is 28 years old and you're afraid its now-hokey special effects will alienate the sequel's most important demographic: teens. Just for the record, Disney says the new DVD won't be ready until 2011 because the director, Steven Lisberger, needed more time. That was news to Lisberger. "It's obviously not my call," he told NEWSWEEK. "They see Tron: Legacy as a stand-alone film. By doing it this way, all the focus is on the new movie."

Poor Tron. It's always been the stepchild of Disney's magical kingdom, no match for even Herbie, the Love Bug. Despite positive reviews, the original made only $33 million at the box office. The story of a hotshot hacker (Jeff Bridges) who gets sucked into a computer, Tron probably would have been long forgotten if not for the geeks who worship it. It was also perhaps the first movie to use CGI, and no doubt paved the way for The Matrix, even if it was never as popular. …