Later this year, Disney will launch its own standalone streaming service to take on Netflix—sort of.
The service, called Disney+, will offer plenty of movies and TV shows from the House of Mouse’s back catalog, along with original programming around hit franchises such as Star Wars and the Marvel universe. But unlike Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and whatever AT&T’s WarnerMedia is working on, Disney+ will focus more on family-friendly fare and probably won’t cost as much.
Here’s what we know (and don’t know) so far about the Disney+ streaming service:
Disney+ launch timing and price
Disney’s streaming service will launch in late 2019 in the United States, with overseas availability to follow, but the company hasn’t announced specific dates. There’s no word on pricing either, though CEO Bob Iger has said the service will be cheaper than Netflix. (It’s unclear if that means it’ll cost less than Netflix’s $8-per-month standard-definition plan, or the more popular $11-per-month high-def plan.) That’s reflective of the fact that Disney+ will offer fewer movies and shows, which we’ll get to shortly.
Iger has also floated the idea of bundling Disney+ with Hulu (of which Disney owns a majority stake) and ESPN+ (the sports streaming service that launched in early 2018), perhaps at a discount. Again, Disney has offered no specifics on that front.
The other big unknowns are what the Disney+ app will look like and which devices it will support. But if it’s anything like the cable-authenticated DisneyNow app, we can expect support for major platforms such as iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV.
Disney+ movies and TV shows: The older stuff
The vast majority of programming on Disney+ will come from the studio’s back catalog, with reports estimating between 5,000) and 7,000 TV episodes. Does that mean your kids will be able to binge-watch old seasons of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Elena of Avalor without cable? We’ll have to see, as Disney has yet to announce specific TV shows. Disney+ will likely include programming from National Geographic as well, given that Disney will own the channel through its acquisition of Fox assets and that its logo appears on the Disney+ website.
As for movies, Disney has said to expect about 500 films from its back catalog, including Pixar and Marvel films, though the first six Star Wars films will be absent until at least 2024. (Turner bought the broadcast and streaming rights to those movies in 2016, and isn’t selling them back.)
Disney+ will also include all films that reach theaters in 2019 and beyond, starting with Captain Marvel. Presumably, you’ll still have to wait until those films have left theaters and are out of the DVD sales window before they’ll be available to stream.
Disney+ movies and shows: Confirmed originals
In recent months, we’ve seen a lot of reports about all the original movies and TV shows that Disney’s been producing for its streaming service. Still, many of these reveals haven’t been confirmed by Disney itself, and most productions are in their early stages. A report from Deadline says Disney+ is aiming for five original shows and four or five original films in the first year, so don’t expect original programming to be a big part of the service at the outset.
With all that said, here are the original movies and TV shows that Disney has officially announced for Disney+ so far:
- An unnamed Star Wars live action series that will begin production in 2019, according to a press release. It will follow “the adventures of Rebel spy Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) during the formative years of the Rebellion and prior to the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
- Another live-action Star Wars series called The Mandalorian, written and executive-produced by Jon Favreau and “set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order.”
- Season 7 of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
- A series based on Marvel’s Loki, with Tom Hiddleston reprising his role from the films.
- A new series set in the world of Monsters, Inc..
- A new series based on High School Musical.
- A film adaptation of the young-adult novel Stargirl, with actress Grace VanderWaal.
Disney+ movies and TV shows: The rumors
Compared to the number of confirmed original movies and TV shows coming to Disney+, the list of rumored or unconfirmed programming is much longer.
For TV shows, we’ve heard about a Muppets reboot, a Mighty Ducks TV series, a TV series based on the film High Fidelity (with a female lead), a documentary on female Disney animators called Ink & Paint, a docuseries on Walt Disney Imagineering, a miniseries featuring Marvel’s Falcon and Winter Soldier, and a series with Marvel’s Scarlet Witch.
For movies, we’ve heard about a Don Quixote film, a Lady and the Tramp remake, a sled-dog adventure film called Togo (with Willem Dafoe), a film adaptation of the Paper Magician book trilogy, the family comedy Magic Camp, the Christmas film Noelle (starring Anna Kendrick as Santa’s daughter), a 3 Men and a Baby remake, a live action Sword and the Stone film, a live action Peter Pan film, Sister Act 3, a film adaptation of the novel Flora and Ulysses, and an adaptation of the Timmy Failure books.
In addition, The Hollywood Reporter has claimed that Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Parent Trap, and Father of the Bride are “on the table for potential film reboots.”
Much has been made of how Disney+ will kneecap Netflix by pulling hit movies like Avengers: Infinity War and Moana. The practical effects of this, however, are somewhat overblown.
For one thing, Netflix only carries Disney films that hit theaters in 2016 and onward, so it doesn’t stand to lose a huge number of films to Disney+. And for those films that Netflix does carry, they’ll remain available until at least the end of 2019. The launch of Disney+ will mainly affect Netflix subscribers’ ability to watch future films—that is, those that hit theaters in 2019 and beyond.
And while Netflix is cancelling Marvel series such as Daredevil and Luke Cage, those decisions probably had more to do with high costs, middling quality, and low viewership than a looming content war. Disney could theoretically bring back the series starting in 2020, but probably won’t given the family focus of Disney+. (Hulu could be a more likely revival candidate, but again, there might not be enough interest to bring those series back in the first place.)
More to come
We still have many months to go until Disney+ actually launches, and once it does, the service could evolve quickly with new content and features. That’s already happened with ESPN+, which continued to add more sports coverage and original programming after its launch in early 2018. We’ll keep an eye out for more details and update this story accordingly. You can also visit the Disney+ website and sign up for updates straight from the source.