In September 2017, Disney announced plans to create its own streaming video service — a platform created to challenge Netflix, Hulu, and similar high-end streamers. Just over a year later, that service was given a name: Disney Plus.
Disney Plus (also known as Disney+) is intended to compete with industry leader Netflix and the various other direct-to-consumer streaming video platforms currently in use and in development. Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger indicated that Disney Plus is the company’s “biggest priority” in 2019 — which says a lot, given the scope of Disney’s influence and content.
It will also include some high-profile exclusive content and the possible return of an original Star Wars character, if the latest round of rumors is a sign of things to come.
Here’s everything we know about Disney Plus so far.
What will it include?
One high-profile original series rumored to be in the works for Disney Plus is a new show based on The Muppets, developed by actor Josh Gad and Once Upon A Time creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis.
Initial reports also suggest that the studio’s upcoming movie slate — which includes Captain Marvel, Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, Star Wars: Episode IX, and Favreau’s live-action remake of The Lion King — will probably have exclusive streaming availability on the service. Iger confirmed in a February 2019 call with investors that Captain Marvel will be the first Disney movie that the company will maintain exclusivity on after its theatrical release, which also makes it the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that will not be available on Netflix.
Disney is planning to have approximately 7,000 episodes of television series and 400 to 500 movies available on the service when it launches. First and foremost among the content will be a variety of projects tied to Disney’s Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney-specific properties. The overall theme of the service will be family-friendly content.
A report published in September 2018 indicated that Disney is developing multiple series featuring characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the actors who played them on the big screen reprising their roles.
According to Variety, Loki and Scarlet Witch are two of the characters with shows in development, with both Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen, respectively, expected to reprise their roles from the MCU films. The Loki series will be overseen by Rick & Morty producer Michael Waldron, and is said to follow the god of mischief’s as he meddles with key events in human history. A live-action series featuring MCU veterans Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie as Winter Soldier and Falcon, respectively, is also in the works with Empire writer Malcolm Spellman penning the script.
Iger revealed that Disney Plus will also feature some non-Disney owned content, including material from National Geographic, that it is in the process of acquiring through its planned purchase of 21st Century Fox’s magazine and affiliate TV businesses. “Because the Fox deal hasn’t closed yet, […] and because we need to launch the service with some volume and it takes time to ramp up, we’re buying certain products from the outside opportunistically, and we’ll continue to do that,” Iger said.
The Mandalorian, the previously announced, live-action Star Wars series being developed by Jon Favreau, is also among the projects destined for Disney Plus. Another series will bring back Rogue One: A Star Wars Story actor Diego Luna as the rebel spy Cassian Andor.
While The Mandalorian will be set after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi and before Episode VII — The Force Awakens, the still-untitled series starring Luna will be set prior to the events of Rogue One.
— Star Wars (@starwars) November 8, 2018
Rumors suggest that Andor may not be the only popular Star Wars character making his return on Disney Plus. Following Solo‘s lackluster box office returns, Disney’s series of Star Wars anthology films are on hiatus, but the long-rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi feature could live on as a Disney Plus TV show. Star Wars News Net reports that a six-episode Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries is “the next top priority” at Disney Plus. It’s not clear if Ewan McGregor will appear in the series — or if the project is actually happening — but Star Wars News Net notes that McGregor has seemed enthusiastic about slipping back into his Jedi robes in the past and that the script is reportedly “great.”
Obi-Wan might not be traveling to Disney Plus alone, either. We Got This Covered claims that series starring Star Wars characters like Lando Calrissian, Solo‘s femme fatale Qi’ra, reformed stormtrooper Finn, and ace Resistance pilot Poe Dameron are all in early development at Disney. The report doesn’t say whether or not Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Oscar Isaac, or John Boyega, all of whom are highly sought-after Hollywood stars, will reprise their big screen roles, and none of these shows have been confirmed by Disney. For now, consider these shows rumors, and nothing more.
A new series set in the world of Disney and Pixar’s Monsters Inc. is also in the works, as is a series based on the Disney Channel’s High School Musical franchise. A seventh season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is also in production, as well as a series based on the movie High Fidelity.
Other original movie projects announced for the service include multiple remakes of classic and more recent Disney films, as well as new films. Some of the projects specifically identified include 3 Men and a Baby, Don Quixote, Father of the Bride, Flora & Ulysses, Lady and the Tramp, Magic Camp, Noelle, The Paper Magician, The Parent Trap, Stargirl, The Sword in the Stone, Timmy Failure, Togo, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
Whether those projects will find their way to other streaming platforms at some point remains unknown.
When we’ll see it
Disney hasn’t given the service an official launch date at this point, other than a vague late-2019 target for it to go public and become available to subscribers.
Before it officially launches, however, the company plans to give investors a sneak peek at the service in April, according to Bloomberg. Disney is expected to provide the very first preview of Disney Plus during its April 11 investor meeting, something that Iger confirmed during the company’s Q1 2019 earnings call.
Until then, anyone interested in the service can sign up for updates at the official preview site: Preview.DisneyPlus.com.
Initially identified as “Disney Play” by Iger in early interviews, the official Disney Plus name — and its logo — was revealed in a November 2018 earnings presentation, with a press release confirming the details shortly thereafter.
How much it will cost
Disney Plus plans to undercut Netflix when it comes to pricing for its streaming service, and will likely come in under the monthly $8 to $14 fee charged by Netflix. This decision, Iger acknowledged, has as much to do with making the service more appealing financially as it does with accurately valuing the amount of content available when it debuts.
When it comes to its initial library, Disney Plus won’t attempt to match Netflix in sheer volume of content, explained Iger in a wide-ranging feature published by Variety. Being able to draw from Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney brands gives the service an exclusivity that other platforms lack, he argued, as long as the content is kept to the high standard fans expect.
“We have the luxury of programming this product with programs from those brands or derived from those brands, which obviously creates a demand and gives us the ability to not necessarily be in the volume game, but to be in the quality game,” Iger said.
What it won’t include
One thing Disney Plus won’t be doing is pulling original Marvel, Star Wars, or Disney content off competing platforms. While that likely comes as good news to fans of live-action Marvel series on Netflix, for example, as well as recent series such as The Gifted and Runaways, that doesn’t mean the series will continue on their respective platforms and television networks.
In what could be a sign of things to come, Netflix announced a series of cancellations in late 2018 and early 2019 that brought its five live-action Marvel series to an end following their most recent seasons. Various reports indicated that Netflix and Disney had reached an impasse in negotiating the terms of the series’ continuation on the streaming service, with Netflix looking to reduce costs for future seasons, only for the streaming provider to eventually pull the plug.
As initially promised by Disney, however, the existing episodes of every show will remain exclusively available to view on Netflix. However, Marvel TV teased that the series could return elsewhere. “As Matthew Murdock’s Dad once said, ‘The measure of a man is not how he gets knocked to the mat, it’s how he gets back up. To be continued…!,” Marvel told Deadline. Could that mean a Disney Plus revival for Daredevil and his friends? It’s not out of the question.
The availability of the first six films in the Star Wars franchise is also uncertain at this point, as Disney sold the U.S. broadcast rights to the films — which also apparently included streaming rights — to Turner Broadcasting System in a 2016 deal that gives Turner control of the movies through 2024. Disney has made efforts to buy back the rights, but no deal has been struck at this point.
In keeping with Disney’s family-friendly approach to programming, there won’t be any R-rated projects available on Disney Plus, either. Any movies or TV series that push the boundaries of Disney’s typical PG-13 audience will be diverted to Hulu, according to various reports. This includes titles like Marvel’s Deadpool.
Updated on February 20, 2019: Added rumors about an Obi-Wan Kenobi television show.
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