Disney+ was sold to customers as “the dedicated streaming home for entertainment from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and more” bringing you the “opportunity to re-live favorites with unlimited access to thousands of the Disney movies and shows you love, now available for everyone to enjoy.” That “unlimited” part appears to be a bit of a stretch. Despite hosting holiday hits Home Alone and Home Alone 2 during the closing days of 2019–and promoting the titles through their marketing–Disney+ has now pulled the movies without so much as a heads up.
Chris Columbus‘ Oscar-nominated original and its cash-grabby sequel were, you guessed it, 20th Century Fox productions, making them Disney properties in this bizarro contemporary time of ours. But while they were good enough to tout during the holidays, they’re now gone from the steaming service; Home Alone 3 still remains, which honestly feels like more of a slap in the face than anything. I’m sure there’s a good explanation for this, likely something to do with the overly complicated licensing rights and windows for releases, or maybe an intern unchecked the wrong box while working on New Year’s Eve, who knows.
But Disney+ is supposed to own these titles outright, no? That’s probably the case generally, but domestic vs international rights and the scattershot web of streaming rights might have complicated things. The two Home Alone movies were apparently only pulled domestically, along with The Sandlot, Dr. Dolittle, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; these titles are still available overseas, according to What’s on Disney Plus. Disney+ also pulled Never Been Kissed and Disney’s Avalon High in December… before putting them back again. In other words, this remove-and-restore operation isn’t a one-off situation, it’s going to be an ongoing practice. And that’s understandably frustrating to paying subscribers. The content will come and go, users will freak out, and Disney+ will either ignore it or just deliver that next sweet hit of nostalgia to appease us. Rinse and repeat.
[Update: To clarify, some of the Disney+ titles, mostly the ones that have been around for a while, do indeed have complicated deals tying up their availability. Eventually, once those deals expire, the titles will find a “permanent” home on the service, at least until Disney+ decides otherwise.]
So here’s your reminder that purchasing physical media means you own it and can watch it whenever you want. Whatever streaming service you subscribe to only grants you access to content if and when the provider allows it. Subscriber beware.