Editor’s note: This op-ed was written by Zach Perilstein, editor-in-chief of Boardwalk Times and a contributor at the entertainment website Cultjer.
The Walt Disney Company has had many accomplishments, from its visionary founder Walt Disney who pioneered animated films and theme parks, The Walt Disney Company has been able to achieve a lot.
Yet, one of its greatest accomplishments could be coming soon. Disney is creating their streaming service that will rival Netflix. Disney looks to become a formidable opponent in the streaming wars. Armed with treasured content and new properties from 21st Century Fox. Disney looks to expand their already gigantic entertainment footprint. Tech is constantly evolving, and Disney wants to stay competitive in terms of consumers absorbing their content. What’s the best way to have people consumer your content these days outside of traditional media? Streaming services.
Let’s just breakdown the original content so far. We aren’t even discussing the film and television shows they already own. Disney+ is creating some exciting new original content. They already have four films completed. Magic Camp, which stars Adam Devine. Anna Kendrick will star in Noelle. The story of the film will follow Santa Claus’ daughter, who will be played by Kendrick. This film has been discussed a lot especially on the quarterly calls. Most were surprised to hear that it was heading to the streaming service instead of a traditional theatrical release, as many speculated it was supposed to be a replacement of Tim Allen’s original Santa Clause series. Disney is betting on this content to do well. The other films that have been completed were book adaptations of Stargirl and Timmy Failure.
Right now Disney is filming a live-action Lady and the Tramp and Willem Dafoe’s Togo. There is even more being developed on the film side. Which should excite any Disney fan that has a pulse. In development Disney+ will be doing a live-action Sword in the Stone. On top of that a few months ago DisInsider reported that Peter Pan live-action remake would be heading to the service. Those two legendary animated features aren’t the only properties being rebooted for Disney+. Also in-development at the streaming service is remakes of Three Men and a Baby, Father of the Bride, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, and The Parent Trap.
We still don’t know the concrete strategy of Disney+. Are making these low and mid budget films going to draw the people to the service? More than unlikely although Disney fans will excitedly anticipate Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, and Sword in the Stone. Disney+ can become Disney’s greatest accomplishment this century. By giving us all-access to the new and old Disney properties. If you think about it now there is many ways to consume Disney content. Yet there isn’t a space where you can watch everything. Netflix has some, Hulu has some, Amazon Prime has some (but you probably have to pay), and the Disney media networks are traditional so of course they don’t have everything. Disney+ will have the ability to have everything and more. While some shows may be held up due to distributing rights.
Disney+ is going to be brand focused. So far featuring Pixar, Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and National Geographic. It is assumed the prized adult franchises from Fox will be on Hulu. So Disney+ won’t be as expansive as some analyst’s first thought. You have to keep your Kingsman separated from Cars. Keep your Avatar away from Coco. Even though some Disney+ shows will have an expected PG-13 tone. Still that hasn’t been officially confirmed or denied.
That’s where Disney+ will thrive. In the streaming television show department. They are bringing out the big guns for the streaming shows. They are utilizing Star Wars, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney has already announced three Star Wars series. The Mandalorian, which is created by Jon Favreau is already boasting a unique, talented directors list. The Mandalorian takes place after Return of the Jedi and before The Force Awakens. The series could possible provide clues on the current sequel trilogy. The second Star Wars series coming to Disney+ is a Rogue One prequel series with Diego Luna reprising his role as Captain Cassian Andor. The series will most likely show us how Cassian meets K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). Then Disney is also bringing back Clone Wars for a seventh season after it was cancelled. Disney+ will be the first service to have three original Star Wars series, and that gives Disney+ an edge.
The MCU dominates the box office. Now Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is eyeing the MCU to expand its streaming presence with new original series. There are already three limited series in development. With a Loki series being confirmed by Bob Iger on Disney’s quarter four call. Also in development are Scarlet Witch and Vision, and a Winter Soldier-Falcon team up series. The MCU will continue its powerful storytelling on Disney+. This also gives Marvel Studios and Disney a world of other characters to explore. Unlike the previous Netflix relationship with Marvel where the characters they focused on were darker. I’m sure Disney is already planning on what Marvel properties could be the next binge-able show. Marvel is studying what already exists within the MCU that can tell a compelling story. Look at the first three series in development. All are characters that haven’t been truly explored in the film, or haven’t been given their own solo outings.
Similar to Disney’s film strategy for Disney+, it looks like they will be rebooting a lot of classic, well-known franchises more so than their film side of Disney+. Disney is developing a Monsters Inc. series. Who knows how much Pixar will even be involved. Disney did shut down Disneytoon Studios this year, so they don’t even have the option of going that route. Meaning that Pixar will most likely develop the project, and it will be fascinating to see how they do it. Disney is also calling upon High School Musical for the streaming service. Though the series is coming with a twist. It’s set in East High but it’s about a drama club performing the music of High School Musical. It’s going to be done in similar style to The Office. It will be fascinating to see if fans of the franchise will actually stream the show.
Disney is also taking risks by once again trying to correctly use The Muppets. In 2015, Disney tried to bring The Muppets back to TV after Muppets Most Wanted flopped. The show only lasted for a season, and by time the show actually got good it was canceled by the powers at ABC. Now Disney+ gets a shot at trying to make The Muppets into something again. Rumors have been circulating that Disney is going to do the new show in the same vein as the original Muppet Show. Hopefully, Disney+ can use The Muppets correctly and it gives the brand an overall boost. Currently, The Muppets just have Twitter accounts, and they really should have more.
That’s not the only random franchise Disney is revitalizing for its service. Disney is also creating a new Mighty Ducks series. It’s coming from the original creator. No word if it will be like the High School Musical series or if it will take a similar approach like YouTube Premium’s Cobra Kai, taking place years later after the beloved original films. If Mighty Ducks does the latter, Emilio Estevez and Joshua Jackson reprising their roles would be epic for fans of the original trilogy.
On top of all this content, Disney is also doing docu-series. Bob Iger announced a docu-series based on Walt Disney Imagineering. Promising it will show us and tell us things never known to the general public. WDI is such a broad topic and it will be appealing to witness a series dedicated to it. Disney also has another documentary series in the works called Ink & Paint, based off the book written by Mindy Johnson. It’s the story of the women of Walt Disney Animation from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Moana. It should be another riveting documentary series. There is a third documentary series in the works from ABC Studios. The topic being covered is currently unknown.
Disney still has to fend off WarnerMedia, Netflix, Amazon, and Apple, not to mention any other service that tries to take away eyes from the main streaming giants. Like CBS All Access, and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s short-form streaming platform Quibi. The key advantage Disney+ and Hulu have over all of them (besides WarnerMedia) is that they have treasured libraries and franchises from both Disney and 21st Century Fox. Netflix will continue to create binge-worthy originals but losing already well-known content is going to hurt just look at the “Friends is leaving Netflix debacle of 2018.” Amazon creates originals but they don’t generate buzz. Apple has recruited some incredible creative players with their deep pockets as they courted Oprah, Sesame Workshop, and The Peanuts for their streaming service. We still don’t have any details on how Apple’s streaming service and layout will be like.
Disney+ is a risk-taking move for The Walt Disney Company. Yet, it could be Disney’s greatest accomplishment. Creating a place to access everything Disney in one spot. Similar to how founder Walt Disney wanted every child to have a Mickey Mouse doll, Disney+ will be the same way. It will give families a chance to get boatloads of entertainment for a monthly price. Disney+ is supposedly going to be cheaper than Netflix at first. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Disney try to bundle Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ into one deal. Disney+ won’t have the same amount of content as main rival Netflix at first. Disney does plan to expand it slowly over time. Disney+ will also not affect the normal theatrical release or their traditional networks.
The same company pioneered animated films and theme parks. Now Disney is trying to reinvent the way we consume their entertainment. Thanks in large part due to Netflix but still it will be a heck of an accomplishment if Disney is able to reinvent the game once again, and beat Netflix at their own game. Disney’s big reasoning for purchasing 21st Century Fox was due to Disney+. Now it’s go time. Even Disney CEO Bob Iger is staying on until 2021 to see the 21st Century Fox deal and Disney+ through. Disney has all the tools to succeed in this area, and if they do it will be their greatest accomplishment this century. It will be intriguing to watch Disney navigate its way through the streaming wars.
Disney+ is set to debut later this year. Follow @DisneyExaminer for updates.