Disney is about to make a massive move into the direct-to-consumer avenue, and they’re bringing all their best toys with them. We learned in August that Disney was planning on launching its own exclusive streaming service in late 2019, which would include a library of Disney films and TV shows as well as new releases and potential original content, but still up in the air at the time was whether Disney would also pull its Marvel and Star Wars properties from Netflix and move them to their own service, or if they’d extend their license with Netflix. Netflix, obviously, fought hard to keep Marvel and Star Wars in its library, but Disney CEO Bob Iger announced today what we already figured: Marvel and Star Wars movies are also moving to the Disney streaming service and the Netflix deal is not being renewed.
Iger made the revelation during an earnings call earlier today (via THR), where he also revealed that in addition to including around 500 films from the Disney library and about 7,000 episodes of Disney TV series on the Disney app, the studio will produce four to five original films for exclusive use on the streaming service, mostly live-action. We figured original content would be part of the deal here, and indeed it’ll be interesting to see if Disney uses the streaming service as a substitute for the direct-to-video model (i.e. cheaper, lower quality features) or if they’ll go full-force with these new original movies with big stars and known filmmakers.
Of course this also pretty much confirms that, at least at some point, we’re gonna get a Star Wars TV series on the Disney streaming service. A live-action Star Wars show was in development at Lucasfilm for years before George Lucas sold the company, but the show was abandoned due to its high cost. It’s possible Disney revisits those scripts (they’re all written) and reworks, or they may start over from scratch. Either way, launching the Disney streaming service with a massive library of Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel films, original movies, and potentially franchise-linked TV shows is going to get this thing off with a massive bang.
This comes as Apple just announced a $1 billion investment in original movies and TV series, Amazon Studios is in the habit of producing/releasing Oscar contenders, and Netflix is ramping up its original content at an insane rate. The digital playing field is growing exponentially, and if we’ve learned one thing over Iger’s tenure as CEO of Disney, it’s that the Mouse House knows how to dominate the entertainment industry. Look out digital, Disney’s a-comin’.