The rise of streaming services has already had a major impact on the movie business, with countless high-profile filmmakers taking their projects exclusively to the small screen in recent years, which is largely down to the fact that the likes of Netflix and Amazon tend to give out the sort of complete creative control that wouldn’t be offered by the traditional major studios.
The continuing effects of the Coronavirus pandemic have also had a seismic impact on the theatrical industry, with the calendar becoming almost completely bare as virtually every major title scheduled for release over the last seven months has been pulled, with the notable exception of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.
Many of these movies have been pushed to next year, but a few of them have bypassed cinemas entirely and have been sent to streaming. Disney have gotten in on the act as well by releasing Mulan exclusively on Disney Plus for a one-off fee, while Pixar’s Soul will debut on the platform on Christmas Day. However, it looks like this could just be the tip of the iceberg for the Mouse House.
The weakest aspect of Disney Plus is without a doubt the original content, and very few of the service’s in-house originals have permeated the public consciousness with the notable exception of The Mandalorian. In a new press release, though, CEO Bob Chapek confirmed that streaming is going to be the company’s main focus moving forward, saying:
“Given the incredible success of Disney Plus and our plans to accelerate our direct-to-consumer business, we are strategically positioning our company to more effectively support our growth strategy and increase shareholder value. Managing content creation distinct from distribution will allow us to be more effective and nimble in making the content consumers want most, delivered in the way they prefer to consume it. Our creative teams will concentrate on what they do best, making world-class, franchise-based content, while our newly centralized global distribution team will focus on delivering and monetizing that content in the most optimal way across all platforms, including Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN Plus and the coming Star international streaming service.”
That’s a bold statement from the studio that controls the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pixar, Star Wars and the production line of live-action remakes from the animated back catalogue, especially when Disney are regularly responsible for the majority of the highest-grossing movies at the box office in any given year. But it’ll no doubt be fascinating to see where the studio goes from here and how they deal with the rapidly changing entertainment landscape.