On Thursday afternoon at Disney’s Burbank lot, CEO Bob Iger opened the 2019 Investor Day by highlighting the “evergreen” quality of the Walt Disney Company’s content and explaining how that will propel their growing direct-to-consumer (DTC) business, which includes Disney+, Hulu (of which they now own 60%), ESPN+, and India’s Hotstar.
He was followed by Kevin Mayer, chairman of direct-to-consumer and international, who noted that in anticipation for their plans to enter the streaming marketplace, Disney purchased streaming services company Bamtech in 2016 and renamed it Disney Streaming Services.
Mayer also explained that even though Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu will initially have to be paid as individual subscriptions, the company has plans to bundle the three at a discounted prize in the near future. He confirmed that unlike Hulu and ESPN+, which have ad-supported options, Disney+ will only be available as an ad-free service. The service is expected to be available globally in the future. Disney also plans to expand Hulu’s international footprint.
Disney+ is scheduled to launch in the U.S. on November 12, 2019 and will cost $6.99 per month (or $69.99 annually). While the price undercuts Netflix’s $8.99/month entry point, Disney+’s content is more limited and lacking in variety than Netflix’s offerings.
Disney plans to expand the service to Western Europe and Asia in the 2020 fiscal year and to Eastern Europe and Latin America in the 2021 fiscal year.
Mirroring what streaming services like Netflix already offer, Disney+ will allow users to download its content to watch offline with no restrictions for as long as the customer is a subscriber. The presentation then showcased the service’s interface, which is similar to what consumers are used to on competing services. Content will be divided into five brands: Disney (animation and live action), Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.
Frozen co-director and Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) chief creative officer, Jennifer Lee, presented details about the Disney section of the service. At launch, users will be able to access a collection of 13 Walt Disney Animation Studios films, which the company calls its Signature Collection. These films, most of which have previously been rotated in and out of the ‘vault,’ include both classics and contemporary titles, such as Pinocchio, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Snow White.
Other recent WDAS titles like Moana and Big Hero 6 will also be available on the service, however it does not look like the service will offer a complete catalog of Disney’s animated features, nor shorts, on day one of the sevice. However, Disney has announced that it plans to add 500 movies to the service within the first year. Hopefully, that means more of the animated features will be available on the service.
Lee also announced that an unscripted series titled Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 will premiere on Disney+.
Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter appeared to discuss Disney+’s Pixar’s slate, which will include 18 of the studio’s 21 features. Incredibles 2, Coco, and Toy Story 4 won’t be on the platform at launch, but will be added in the following months. All of the studio’s short films, including Bao, will be available at launch.
Docter also announced two original projects Pixar is creating for Disney+. The first one is a 10-episode series titled Forky Asks a Question, which follows one of the new characters in Toy Story 4 as he ponders important queries related to love, time, and cheese.
Disney+ will also debut a short film titled Lamp Life centered on Toy Story’s Bo Peep where she will share what life stuck to a lamp is like. These two project will join the previously announced Pixar-inspired-but-Disney-Television-Animation-produced Monsters at Work series, a spinoff of Monsters, Inc., that will feature most of the original voice cast. Like with the Disney section of the platform, there will also be craft-centered unscripted content focused on the behind-the-scenes work of animators and other creative workers at Pixar.
Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige revealed they are creating the studio’s first animated series to debut exclusively on Disney+. What If, based on the comic book series, will re-imagine the stories behind MCU’s most popular superheroes. There is also the live-action series Falcon and The Winter Soldier, that will bring these supporting characters into the limelight. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are confirmed to reprise their roles. Feige additionally mentioned Disney+ will have two unscripted series from behind-the-scenes material collected during the making of the Marvel live-action movies. The shows will be titled Marvel’s 616 and Marvel’s Hero Project.
In addition to the photorealistic retelling of The Lion King, director Jon Favreau has also been working on an original Star Wars series titled The Mandalorian, which will be available on day one of the service. Not many details were revealed about the Lucasfilm properties, perhaps because a Disney-sponsored Star Wars celebration is currently taking place in Chicago.
A live-action Lady and Tramp film will debut exclusively on Disney+.
A new Phineas and Ferb movie in the works where the protagonists will have to rescue their sister, Candace, from aliens.
An original documentary feature, The Imagineering Story, will provide insight into Disney parks around the world.
Given the recent Fox merger, the most notable revelation was that the first 30 seasons of Fox’s The Simpsons will be available on Disney+ at launch. The announcement was made through an animated clip featuring the Simpsons family wearing Mickey ears and standing next to Darth Vader and Bog Iger statues. Near the end of the clip Dumbo drops from the sky and Maggie flies wearing Thinker Bell wings.
Interestingly, one point that was reiterated with every mention of theatrically distributed features is that before any of them land on Disney+ they will follow the traditional home entertainment windows. This means that the physical media business — dvds and Blu-rays — is not disappearing just yet, despite the illusion that everything will now be available permanently on the platform.