Although Disney+ just released in November, movies are already disappearing according to Polygon. As early as January 1, some U.S.-based Disney+ users noticed that films had suddenly gone missing from the streaming library without notice.
So far, the list of titles removed includes Dr. Dolittle, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, The Sandlot, Flicka, Strange Magic, and The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration, as well as The Shaggy Dog and Garfield 2: A Tail of Two Kitties, which were quietly removed in 2019.
Prior to the platform’s release, Disney told Comicbook.com that, unlike many other streaming services, Disney+ would not have a “rotating slate” of licensed movies each month. However, that doesn’t appear to be entirely accurate given the quiet removal of these films less than two months after launch.
As The Verge’s Julia Alexander reported, most of the removals stem from the complicated licensing deals surrounding these films, a consequence of Disney’s many acquisitions over the past few years — especially Fox’s extensive library. Disney sources also told Polygon that films would likely rejoin Disney+ once those licenses expire.
Great story from Polygon. Can confirm that a small handful of Disney movies are running into issues with various legacy deals, and that's why they're being removed. Those movies will rejoin Disney+ permanently once licenses expire with their respective parties. https://t.co/BG1w2ZPmyz
— Julia Alexander (@loudmouthjulia) January 2, 2020
However, subscriber concerns surround the surprise nature of content removal. Disney hasn’t issued any press releases about changes or commented on the disappearing content. Whereas companies like Netflix and HBO typically put out monthly bulletins of everything coming and leaving their platforms, Disney has only emphasized arrivals.
While Disney initially promised that the entire Signature Collection of classics like Beauty and the Beast, Bambi, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty would live on the platform in perpetuity, that promise does not appear to cover anything else in the library.
Indeed, some films are already slated to leave Disney+ in the future. According to Bloomberg, major Disney films like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Black Panther, Coco, and other late-decade titles are set to return to Netflix starting “around 2026.” Although it’s not confirmed, that seems to suggest that they would not be available on Disney+ simultaneously. Additionally, some clever Disney+ users discovered that other films had hidden expiration dates, which may indicate the end of other licensing deals and contracts, even though Disney owns all of the titles on Disney Plus.
— Stitch Kingdom (@stitchkingdom) November 12, 2019
It’s unclear when or if Home Alone, The Sandlot, and the other films in this recent removal will return to the streaming platform but it seems like they will not be the last movies to disappear suddenly. For now, it seems that complications with licensing deals may result in some variance in the Disney+ library over the next few years.
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