Disney+ may start becoming the go-to hub for Disney’s future theatrical tentpoles, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wears on. The House of Mouse is reportedly considering pushing the premieres of its upcoming live-action remakes Pinocchio, Peter Pan and Wendy, and Cruella to Disney+, foregoing a theatrical release completely.
Deadline reports that the uncertain theatrical market is making Disney begin to look at other options for its upcoming tentpole family films: namely, its new streaming platform Disney+. The outlet reports Disney is looking at “launching a number of its upcoming tentpole family films on Disney+ instead of the theatrical release bows that were envisioned when the films were developed and green lit.”
The movies that are being discussed to get their releases pushed to Disney+ are Cruella, the Craig Gillespie-directed live-action origin story of the 101 Dalmatians villain starring Emma Stone and Emma Thompson; Pinocchio directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks as Gepetto; and David Lowery’s Peter Pan and Wendy, which features Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell.
Nothing is set in stone yet, neither is it clear whether these films would be offered free to Disney+ subscribers, like the upcoming Disney+ release of Pixar’s Soul, or whether their will be a premium fee like the release of Mulan. But it seems like Disney is fast to react to big release changes like WarnerMedia’s pushing Wonder Woman 1984 to a day-and-date release on HBO Max and in theaters on Christmas Day.
Deadline reports that Disney is “looking at every option, and everything is under consideration and contingency planning, as Disney makes plans to lean in heavily on its direct-to-consumer initiative and towards continuing to build the juggernaut Disney+, whose subscriber numbers brightened up a last quarter that would otherwise have been bleak because of the wallop that theme parks and live entertainment took from the COVID pandemic.”
Disney has found a comfortable pandemic option with Disney+, which has seen tremendous subscriber growth to a whopping 73.7 million as of early October — boosted by the premieres of former theatrical releases like Hamilton and Mulan. It’s still uncertain whether Mulan‘s PVOD release on Disney+ can be counted as a success, especially in relation to what it could have raked in at the box office during a normal release, but it seems like it was enough of a hit to encourage Disney to look at Disney+ as its one-stop shop for future live-action remakes. However, Deadline reports that Disney is still planning to save its bigger titles for theatrical release once the market recovers — with Marvel’s Black Widow not even being contemplated for a streaming debut.
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