The Walt Disney Co. has announced a galaxy of new streaming offerings, including plans for 10 Star Wars series and 10 Marvel series that will debut on Disney+.
In a virtual presentation for investors on the 10th December, Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said Disney+ subscribers worldwide had reached 86.8 million, up from 74 million in November. The streaming service was launched in November 2019 and the company forecasts 230-260 million subscribers by 2024.
To keep subscriber numbers climbing, Disney presented a vast selection of remakes, sequels and spinoffs — 100 new titles in all — including a Beauty and the Beast prequel series, a Moana animated series and even a show featuring the Kardashians.
But Disney also maintained plans for its biggest films — including Marvel’s Black Widow, Pixar’s Luca and a Lion King prequel — to get cinema releases.
Patty Jenkins, who directed Wonder Woman, was announced as director of the next long-awaited Star Wars film, Rogue Squadron, with a release in cinemas planned for Christmas 2023. Jenkins becomes the first woman to direct a Star Wars film.
Other films going ahead with theatrical plans include a Buzz Lightyear prequel and a Black Panther sequel.
In March, the animated Raya and the Last Dragon will debut simultaneously in cinemas and by premier access on Disney+. That’s the same approach the company took earlier this fall for Mulan, with a $30 early-access fee on top of the monthly subscription cost.
“Of the 100 new titles announced today, 80% of them will go to Disney+,” said Chapek. “But we had $13 billion of the box office last year and that’s obviously not something to sneeze at. For us it’s about balance.”
Many in Hollywood had been waiting for Disney’s response after Warner Media announced that it will release all 17 of its 2021 films — from Dune to The Matrix 4 — simultaneously on its streaming platform, HBO Max, and in cinemas. That move led to a backlash from much of the film industry, with some saying it signalled the end of cinemas.