If you didn't get the 20th anniversary DVD collector's edition when it came out in 2002, you are out of luck. Unless a bluray edition of the movie comes out in 2011, there is absolutely no legal way to watch the movie at a reasonable price. You'd have to buy it from a third party via ebay or Amazon. It won't be cheap.
A new conspiracy theory has cropped up online in advance of 'Tron: Legacy' hitting theaters next month; one that suggests Disney is hiding the original 'Tron' by keeping it off DVD shelves in order to -- and yes, this sounds weird -- keep people from seeing it for fear it will turn them off from watching its sequel this December. Rebecca Keegan over at the LA Times did some digging and noticed that a copy of 'Tron' was almost impossible to come by these days, with Netflix listing it as "availability unknown" and users on eBay charging through the roof for any used copies. Furthermore, a scan of 30 Blockbusters in Los Angeles resulted in only two having copies in stock.Going back to Rebecca Keegan's story in the LA Times blog:
Director Steven Lisberger recently remastered the film, color correcting it and reframing certain shots for a planned Blu-ray edition. But Disney hasn’t yet set a release date for Lisberger’s new version, and as the studio’s marketing for ‘Tron: Legacy” has become ubiquitous, interest in the original is outstripping supply.It's a dire shame that Disney refuses to make the first movie available.
“They’re trying to figure out when the best time is to release it,” Lisberger says. “I don’t think there’s anything intentional going on to deprive ‘Tron’ fans of the new edition.”[...]
Disney has declined to say when the studio will release a new edition of “Tron,” but it’s possible the company is deliberately holding back on printing new copies of a movie that could alienate the broad, non-geek audiences they’ll need to make “Tron: Legacy” a success. [Update: Disney now says Lisberger's remastered version of "Tron" will be available sometime in 2011.]
“That film was ahead of its time,” says Jan Saxton, analyst at Adams Media Research. “But they want the focus to be on their new effort.”
Netflix doesn't charge late fees so it is very possible that many customers are keeping the DVDs in their homes for a long time. Sure, they can do that but it's rather rude to other Netflix customers that want to watch the movie and legally be able to do so without shelling out a lot of money.
If Disney is afraid of the special effects of Tron affecting the effects of Tron: Legacy, they would have never greenlit a sequel. The effects of 1982 are very different than that of 2010. It's very dated for a movie of its time, too.
Does Disney not trust the current Tron audience demographics? I heard someone ask if this new one was a remake. I had to inform them that it was a sequel so something is off with Disney's marketing plan.
Holding off the original film but keeping it out of print doesnt sit well with new viewers. Keeping it out of print leads to piracy and that's what the studios are currently fighting. Disney really doesn't get it.