Disney+ subscribers will still have to wait around seven months before new Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar theatrical releases reach the service. Though not entirely shocking, this does clear up a few things about Disney's upcoming streamer and its member benefits. The streaming service will start off cheaper than Netflix ($6.99 per month), and feature all the Disney-owned titles currently available on its biggest streaming competitor. It will also include a whole lot of lesser-known older films and series, as Disney announced this week.
Like every other streaming service in the works or already up and running, Disney+ will further offer exclusive content to entice people to sign up. That's an especially big deal since Disney owns the rights to lucrative IPs like Star Wars and the MCU, and has already confirmed its plans to develop multiple series for both franchises on Disney+ (starting with The Mandalorian, which will premiere on Disney+'s launch day). However, if those signing up for the service are hoping they'll get to watch the studio's latest theatrical releases at home before anyone else, well, think again.
In a recent THR article on Disney+, senior vp content Agnes Chu confirmed the Mouse House will continue to release its biggest tentpoles in theaters before they head to the company's streaming service, explaining "There are films that work really well in theaters and require the big screen". However, there will still be a seven-month turnaround between movies like next month's Frozen II and December's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hitting theaters and going to Disney+. Case in point: Pixar's Toy Story 4, which opened back in June, won't become available for streaming until early 2020.
Again, this news is pretty far from surprising. Disney is once again dominating the box office in 2019 (even more than it has in the past), so it wouldn't make sense for them to do anything that could damage the financial viability of their major tentpole releases. Disney CEO Bob Iger has similarly confirmed that their $100 million-plus movies (MCU, Star Wars, Pixar, Disney Animation) will continue to play on the big screen before making their way to Disney+, in order to ensure they turn a profit for the company. The only thing that will change is that mid-range budgeted films - the kind that Disney isn't releasing in theaters these days anyway - will now go straight to their streamer instead (beginning with Anna Kendrick's Christmas comedy, Noelle, on Disney+'s launch day next month).
This approach makes sense for other reasons too. Netflix has ruffled a lot of feathers in the past by releasing their movies in theaters on the same day they become available for streaming. The company has started to mend fences by giving more of their Originals an exclusive two to three week run in theaters (like this month's Dolemite Is My Name) before they hit the service, but many of the largest theater chains in the U.S. still refuse to carry their movies at all. By going the opposite route with Disney+ and not shortening the theater-to-home window, the Mouse House should be able to avoid stepping on theater owners' toes as they too becoming a competitor in the continuing streaming wars.
Disney+ launches next month on Tuesday, November 12.