Disney CEO Bob Iger announced in April that the streaming service Disney+ will be available from November 12, 2019 – and cost $6.99 a month. In a flurry of news about the service, Disney also announced titles for its MCU properties – Loki, WandaVision, and Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The first announcement of the platform back in 2017 kicked off a lot of speculation about the future of streaming media. With its key feature-film brands and impressive library, Disney’s streaming service could become a major competitor to Netflix. And now with Fox in the family, the potential is even bigger (yes, The Simpsons will be available on the platform).
Now that the service has a date, name, and price, let’s look at everything we have learned about Disney+ since that first announcement.
As previous reports indicated, the service will be home to more family-friendly aspects of the Disney empire, including its Pixar Animation Studios films. Other film content includes the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars movies, and the animated library of the Walt Disney Studio itself.
The potential here is huge, especially when one considers just how vast Disney’s film and television holdings really are. Beyond the obvious Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Disney animation content, there is the wealth of ABC family sitcoms, older Disneyana fare, and even PG material from 20th Century Fox. Well, presuming much of that material is available at launch. Like other streaming platforms, Disney will likely cycle content in and out.
Meanwhile, Disney’s less family-friendly material will likely find a home at Hulu, which Disney will control after its purchase of 20th Century Fox is complete early next year.
As streaming services will need “killer app” style content at launch from now on, Disney+’s first announced exclusive series is The Mandalorian, a stand-alone Star Wars series from Iron Man director Jon Favreau. As he previously revealed, the series will feature all-new characters making their way in the galaxy after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, but before The First Order’s deadly attack on the New Republic in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Into that milieu, audiences will discover a Mandalorian gunfighter operating on the Outer Rim, where the worries of the New Republic barely exist and violence still forms the rule of law.
The Mandalorian will star Pedro Pascal (Narcos), Gina Carano (Deadpool), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Emily Swallow (Supernatural), Carl Weathers (Predator), Omid Abtahi (American Gods), Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), and Nick Nolte (Affliction), according to StarWars.com‘s official announcement. Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels) is directing the first episode (and executive producing alongside Kathleen Kennedy and Colin Wilson), while other directors will include Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok).
The other series, which has not yet been named, will feature Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Diego Luna reprising his role as Rebel spy Cassian Andor. Alan Tudyk will also return as Cassian’s droll droid accomplice K-2SO.. Considering the events of Rogue One, the series will be a prequel to that film and chart his earlier operations with the still-growing Rebel Alliance.
The service will also be the exclusive home of Star Wars: The Clone Wars‘ seventh season. The animated series was something of a victim of Lucasfilm’s transition into the Disney family, but its dedicated fanbase was happy to learn it would continue on Disney+ when executive producer Dave Filoni announced its return at Comic-Con back in July.
Each show illustrates Disney’s dedication to the Star Wars brand and the understanding that programs set in that universe will get people to subscribe. We can expect more details on these titles at Star Wars Celebration this April.
While Marvel Entertainment will continue to produce television shows for ABC, Freeform, and other aspects of Disney’s broadcast and cable empire, Marvel Studios will enter the television format for the first time on Disney+ by producing a number of limited series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige recently mentioned, the limited series format will allow MS to focus on some of the films’ supporting characters, whose stories may not fit well in a theatrical format. Feige confirmed on Thursday that the Thor film series’ Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role as Loki in one of the planned productions. Additionally, Avengers’ Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany headline another focused on Vision and Scarlet Witch called WandaVision. A third limited series will reportedly feature Captain America actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their roles in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Additionally, Jeremy Renner will be back as Clint Barton in a Hawkeye limited series. Reportedly, the program will see him handing off the mantle to a younger woman named Kate Bishop, a key character in more recent Hawkeye comics..
Marvel Studios’ contributions to the service will also reportedly include an animated series called What If? Like the comic book series from which it derives, each episode will pose a question like “What if Luis became the Ant-Man?” and build a whole new story around it outside the established MCU canon.
If the planned limited series are successful, they will create new opportunities for established MCU characters like M’Baku and Lady Sif to take the spotlight. It may also prove a launching pad for beloved comic-book characters who have not made their MCU introductions.
Additionally, there are those who believe the service will pick up the orphaned Marvel Entertainment comedy series, New Warriors, but this is far from confirmed. Also, various contractual obligations make it unlikely Disney+ will revive the cancelled Marvel Netflix shows anytime soon. And considering the tone of those programs, it is more likely the Defenders will emerge on Hulu, Disney’s other streaming platform and home to more adult programming.
Outside of Marvel and Star Wars, Disney+ will rely on some of its best-known properties to entice Disney fans into subscribing. Series based on Monsters Inc. and The Mighty Ducks are both in development. A new version of High School Musical based around one school’s production of High School Musical, is also on its way.
A new Muppets series, The Muppets Live Another Day, will reportedly feature the talents of Josh Gad and pick up the Muppets’ story after the events of The Muppets Take Manhattan.
The service is also reportedly developing a series based around the iconic Disney villains. Said to be called Book of Enchantments, it will be based on Serena Valentino’s Villains book series and tell the origins of characters like The Little Mermaid‘s Ursula and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs‘ Wicked Queen.
And for fans of Disney history, the service will also feature Ink & Paint, a docu-series centered on the women who “made many of the Disney animated classics possible with little or no recognition for their work” as members of the studio’s Ink & Paint department. Another untitled docu-series is also in the works.
In the realm of features, Disney+ will be the exclusive home of the upcoming Lady and the Tramp live-action remake. Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux will play the title roles, with Yvette Nicole Brown, Benedict Wong, and Janelle Monae set to lend their talents to the production.
The service will also revive Touchstone’s Sister Act series with a third installment, although, according to Whoopi Goldberg, her participation may be limited to a walk-on cameo as the film takes the concept of a witness hiding in a convent in another direction. Insecure‘s Regina Hicks and Star‘s Karin Gist are developing the feature for Disney.
While it makes sense for Disney to lean heavily on its proven stable of intellectual property, Disney+ has acquired a number of films and put several series in development based on concepts new to the corporation, like Diary of a Female President. Created by Crazy Ex-Girlfriend veteran Ilana Peña, it will center on a 12-year-old Cuban-American girl on a mission to become the president of the United States. Of course, she has to survive middle school first. The series already has a 10-episode commitment.
The service is also said to be developing a comedy series called Four Dads about a gay couple who divorce, marry other people, and find they still need to spend time together as they raise their pre-teen daughters.
The film slate includes Noelle, in which Anna Kendrick plays Santa Claus’s daughter Noelle. Bill Hader, Billy Eichner, and Shirley MacLaine also star. Originally set to be released theatrically next November, it joined the Disney+ roster last year.
The often-delayed Magic Camp will also find a home on Disney+. Directed by Mark Waters, the film stars Adam DeVine as a magician who takes a job counseling at a magic-oriented youth camp in the hopes of reigniting his career.
Stargirl – not to be confused with the upcoming DC Universe series of the same name – will also land on the platform. Based on the novel by Jerry Spinelli, it tells the tale of Stargirl Caraway (Grace VanderWaal), a homeschooled teen who shakes things up when she enrolls in an Arizona high school.
And, finally, Disney+ is developing a feature based on Polly Shulman’s YA series The Grimm Legacy, which follows a group of teenagers who work at a library specializing in arcane materials uniquely suited to characters from the Grimm fairy tales. Tolkien screenwriter David Gleeson will write the script.
In August of 2017, Disney bought a controlling interest in BAMTech, LLC, a technology firm specializing in streaming service apps like HBO Now. According to Iger, the Disney+ platform will feature “elegant navigation” and ways to personalize content. Which, considering the way Netflix hides personalized watch lists these days, may be a bigger competitive feature than currently thought.
In fact, that “elegant navigation” may be more of a selling point as streaming services tend to follow the Netflix model. If Disney can reinvent navigating to content — especially for the company’s vast library — it could prove to be a compelling way to pull people away from their chief rival in the streaming sphere.
In April, Disney finally unveiled the most important details about the service: its launch date and price. Starting November 12, 2019, subscribers can enjoy 7,500 episodes of both current and concluded TV shows (like The Simpsons), 25 original series — including The Mandalorian at launch — 10 original movies and specials, 100 recently released Disney theatrical films, and 400 movies from Disney’s library for $6.99 a month (or a yearly price of $69.99). It’s a price which will make people at least give Disney+ a try.
While Disney+ will become the service for Star Wars and Marvel fans, it will also indicate the market’s future as other corporations make moves to silo content on their own services and Netflix plans for a future in which most of its content is home-grown. But with its strong brand recognition and library – to say nothing of the price – it may quickly become the leader in streaming services.