By Elizabeth Nowak
Due to the shutdown of theaters amidst the coronavirus outbreak, Disney has taken measures to release some of their films to their Disney Plus streaming service earlier than scheduled. Disney not only bumped up the release of Frozen 2 months prior to the schedule, but they are also releasing a film in its premiere viewing.
What is Disney Plus?
Disney’s streaming service that released November 12, 2019, is already seeing a big viewership. According to Deadline, Disney Plus reached 50 million subscribers globally between the release in November and April. Not only was the service rolling out to other parts of the world, but Disney also made some interesting additions to the site as far as films and new shows go. Add six months after the initial release and throw a virus into the mix you are left with Disney doing what they do best: keeping families entertained. It is an enticing service after it promoted shows like a Star Wars space opera show The Mandalorian, and Forky Asks a Question, featuring the hit character from Toy Story 4. Costing only $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year, it is significantly cheaper than Amazon Prime which costs $12.99 a month and $119 a year or Netflix whose lowest tier costs $8.99 at a basic one-screen Standard Definition. Disney also features a bundle packaging Disney Plus with Hulu and ESPN Plus for $12.99 a month. Even though it is for Hulu’s lower tier ad-supported service, the bundle can’t be beat.
The service offers many classic Disney films like Snow White and Aladdin as well as some new ones like Toy Story 4 and Togo, a film about a champion dogsled trainer and his lead sled dog Togo. Of course there is the multitude of films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also homes the Star Wars world featuring episodes 1-8, Solo, Rogue One, and the many animated shows that followed, and of course The Mandalorian that features the beloved “Baby Yoda.” You can find many older fan favorites like the Disney Channel Original Movies or DCOMs. With Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, Disney Plus holds a wide variety to keep the family entertained. More films and shows are added once the contracts with other services expire.
Disney Did What?
COVID-19 put a wrench in many theatrical release plans for the company. The live-action Mulan was scheduled to be released in theaters March 27. It is now delayed until July 24 this year. Chances of the film actually releasing at that point are slim but hopes are high. Though Disney had to postpone many other theatrical releases of their films, they made a move to bring other things to the comfort of your home. Frozen 2 reached home screens three months ahead of schedule on March 15 so families and fans could enjoy the musical tale sooner.
Disney’s film Onward was released in theaters February 21 and then released just two weeks later on Disney Plus. The film created by Walt Disney and Pixar follows the story of two elf brothers on a quest racing against time to find an artifact to animate their deceased father. It is a feel-good family film about appreciating what you have in front of you.
One student, Ashley Mercado, surprised by the fast releases welcomed the changes Disney made saying “It was nice not to have to go to a theatre and spend almost $40 or more to see a movie though I don’t think the change is very enjoyable when you realize that it was due to the pandemic.” Indeed the downfall is because of the pandemic, but the bright side is that Disney was able to adapt in a quick manner.
What Next, Disney?
The newest decision that Disney made was focused around their film Artemis Fowl. The film is adapted from a children’s series of the same name by Eoin Colfer. It is one of those films that kept getting shelved because of one reason or another. Kenneth Branagh’s film originally slated for an August 9, 2019 release, was bumped to May 29, 2020. Due to the coronavirus shutting theaters however, the film’s theatrical release was cancelled. Perhaps the pushbacks of the film were the incentive Disney needed to make their next big move. Artemis Fowl is now going to make its premiere debut on Disney Plus June 12.
There is no word yet on whether Disney will do the same with their other films currently postponed. However, there could be the possibility for the streaming platform to launch a new film if Artemis Fowl shows promise. Along with postponing the theatrical release of Mulan by four months, Marvel’s Black Widow is also seeing a six-month delay from May 7 to November 6. According to an article on CNN “Since Marvel has a connected cinematic universe, its time line [sic] will now shift. Next year’s “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” are all being pushed back.”. While it is a sad notion that all these films are delayed, it is encouraging to know that Disney has taken a big step in having a premiere on Disney Plus. It would be a good marketing strategy for Disney if they say they will premiere other larger films than Artemis Fowl.