“Disneyflix” is going to be the cheaper-than-Netflix mecca for all things Walt Disney related.
Towards the end of 2019, Disney fans will finally have access to the company’s exclusive streaming service. Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger recently discussed a number of components about the service as he talked to investors, as reported by Variety, indicating that the platform may be in fact be cheaper than a Netflix subscription. But that’s mainly because of the amount of content that the service will provide.
Many people are “cutting the cord” lately and switching over to streaming services, with the number of people getting rid of cable reaching 33 million this year, according to eMarketer research. With Disney owning a good bit of what is broadcast on televisions daily, it seems only logical that they should still make money off the people who stop getting stations like Disney Channel and Freeform by putting their content elsewhere. Thus, the Disney streaming service.
The question on everyone’s mind, including my own, is whether this service (now officially called Disney Play) will include everything. Kind of. I know, that’s a vague answer, but most of what we know right now about the streaming service is fuzzy. As of now, Disney has confirmed that they are letting their licensing deal with Netflix expire. Meaning that starting with Captain Marvel, all films released in theaters by Walt Disney Studios will be sent to the Disney stream instead. Any Star Wars movie released before 2019 will not be available on the service. Episode IX, therefore, and all Star Wars movies made after will go to Disney’s service after their theatrical release.
But the plan is for all the major Disney brands (Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm) to contribute new and existing content to the service. Disney features, starting with 2019 releases such as Tim Burton’s live-action Dumbo, will make their way to the platform. What about the Disney classics? Those will be on the service as well. Michael Paull, president of Disney Streaming Services, will oversee the movies from Disney’s library and the episodes of older Disney shows that will live within the service.
Seeing as this is a Disney operation, the company wants to keep things as family friendly as possible. This means that anything R-rated that comes out of the studio or, more likely, their Fox acquisitions and anything else that they own of that nature will be moved to Hulu, as Disney will now have a 60% stake in that streaming service thanks to the Fox deal. One thing picked up via Fox that will be heading to Disney’s new platform, however, is NatGeo content.
So, what exactly can we expect from the original content being made to go straight to the streaming service? Ricky Strauss, a Disney executive who now has creative oversight of the new service, “declined to discuss original movies and series beyond the handful that have already been announced. “Right now, we’re playing with launch dates,” he told The New York Times.
As we await further info on additional titles in the next year and beyond, let’s focus on those original movies and series already announced. Here’s a handy guide to what we know about so far:
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the classic story by Miguel de Cervantes, “Don Quixote” is the tale of the titular hero and his “squire” Sancho Panza. The two embark on crazy adventures as Don Quixote has lost his mind and is living the life of a knight, which he is not. Walt Disney tried to turn the book into an animated film for decades. Now, this will just be a live-action adaptation of the novel, with a screenplay written by Billy Ray (The Hunger Games). While there is no definite casting information announced, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some assumptions out there in the world. Although it was a while ago, Johnny Depp showed a pretty big interest in playing the leading role back in 2012.
Father of the Bride
There really isn’t much information to give here, other than the fact that this is a confirmed remake on the list of features going straight to the streaming service. The original was released in 1950, while a remake came in 1991 starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton as husband and wife going through the journey of their oldest child getting married. A cast consisting of Martin, Keaton, and Martin Short (as the wedding planner) is hard to top. Maybe we’ll have something involving the original cast? Our beloved Bankses as grandparents? There was a rumor a while back of a third installment of Father of the Bride that would involve a gay wedding, but nothing ever came of it.
Flora & Ulysses
This will be the first adaptation of the children’s novel by Kate DiCamillo. It’s the story of an unlikely friendship between a young girl named Flora Belle, who is dealing with the recent divorce of her parents, and a squirrel that develops superpowers after a near death experience, whom Flora names Ulysses. Lena Khan (The Tiger Hunter) is directing off a script by Brad Copeland (Ferdinand).
High Fidelity (Series)
Don’t worry, this isn’t a remake of the R-rated Touchstone Pictures release from 2000. It’s a Disney-fied PG-13 adaptation of that movie, which is based on Nick Hornby’s novel and is a series this time around. The film follows Rob and his five most recent breakups, but the new version will have a female lead and a more family-friendly tone. Disney announced in April that Scott Rosenberg, who was one of the co-writers of the movie’s script, was joining the remake crew, with Ugly Betty and Chicago Fire vets Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka also on the writing team.
High School Musical (Series)
All we can confirm about this series is that Tim Federle (Ferdinand) will write and serve as executive producer. As of May of 2018, no cast members from the original High School Musical films were linked to this upcoming series, according to Variety. Not much has changed since then. Given that we don’t know if the likes of Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, and Corbin Bleu will be in this series, it’s hard to say what it could possibly be about. Maybe a new generation of drama club members at East High? Perhaps even about Troy and Gabriella’s kids? One thing that could be interesting is seeing how the beloved drama club members turned out after graduation.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
After Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992), Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves! (1997), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show (1997), and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience the ride (1994), it’s really not surprising that Disney will be bringing back the successful shrinking franchise. Nothing has been said in regards to Rick Moranis reprising his role as Wayne Szalinski, but it’s hard to imagine the movies without him. With Moranis being in his sixties, we’d love to see him come back as a grandparent, but he’s also mostly retired from acting in movies, so that’s unlikely. Even just a fun cameo would suffice.
Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp is one of the few straight-to-streaming items that actually has some substance when it comes to the cast and crew. The cast is slowly falling into place, as Tessa Thompson was recently announced to voice the role of Lady. Justin Theroux will be lending his voice to her love interest Tramp, while Kiersey Clemons will play Lady’s owner, Darling. Also on board is Ashley Jensen, who will voice Jackie, a gender-swapped version of the Jock character, and Benedict Wong as Bull, a stray English bulldog. Charlie Bean (The Lego Ninjago Movie) is directing the hybrid CGI and live-action re-imagining of the original 1955 animated feature (which is based on Ward Greene’s book “Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog”). The term “re-imagining” can be a little unnerving, as it’s not known if this will be an exact remake or just a very loose adaptation of the classic film. Lady and the Tramp is just one among many, many other Disney live-action remakes of classic animations, some of which are heading straight to the streaming service, others that will hit theaters first.
Given his gift in the craft of magic, it’s no surprise that this original story is from the mind of Steve Martin. Magic Camp is about a man (Andy Devine) who returns to the camp he attended when he was young and finds inspiration in the rookie magicians there today. Under the direction of Mark Waters (Mean Girls), the movie also stars Jeffrey Tambor as the owner of Magic Camp and Gillian Jacobs. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writers Dan Gregor and Doug Mand are among the group of credits on the story and screenplay, which also include Micah Fitzerman-Blue (Transparent), Noah Harpster (Transparent), Matt Spicer (Flower), Max Winkler (Flower), Gabe Sachs (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), and Jeff Judah (Diary of a Wimpy Kid). Magic Camp is already done and was initially planned for a theatrical release this year.
The Mighty Ducks (Series)
Much like the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids franchise, it should come as no surprise that Disney is reviving The Mighty Ducks for their streaming service. After the successes of the three live-action films about a Twin Cities ice hockey team, original producer Jordan Kerner and original screenwriter Steven Brill will return to Disney to work with ABC Signature Studios on the series. This is one of the common cases here where it won’t feel the same without the original cast, but they are too old to pass as young hockey players. But hey, adult hockey leagues are a thing. Maybe Disney is going for that kind of direction? Or maybe the kids of the original players? Regardless, this seems like a great addition to the Disney streaming exclusive content.
Monsters, Inc. (Series)
I have a lot of questions about this one, and it doesn’t help that there is virtually no information about this series. For starters, when is it going to take place? Post-Monster’s University but pre-Monsters, Inc.? Post-Monster’s University and post-Monsters, Inc.? Will Boo somehow be involved? Will some of the characters from MU make an appearance? Will John Goodman and Billy Crystal return as Mike and Sully? Because if they don’t, I honestly don’t know if I want to watch this. That’s a little harsh, but it’s true. With Goodman already attached to a Disney streaming project, (see Noelle below) maybe he’ll be involved with this one too. One can also assume that Pete Docter will be attached to this in some way, as he created Monsters, Inc. as we know it and co-directed the film.
Disney is taking another stab at bringing back The Muppets. There aren’t any details as to what’s going to happen in the new series, but one can assume that it won’t be anything like the ABC mockumentary series The Muppets that was canceled after one season. With Muppet Babies currently making its triumphant return on Disney Junior, we can also guess that the streaming service series won’t involve those lovable toddlers. Disney’s best bet is to bring back some version of The Muppet Show. That way fans of the original, as well as younger audiences of today, can enjoy something that we know everyone has always loved. It’s not like Disney is unfamiliar with revamping older shows, as DuckTales is currently making a strong comeback on DisneyXD. So when it comes to The Muppets, all we need is what we’ve always known them to be: corny, wacky, and presenting us with special guest stars.
This is, as far as we know, Disney’s first original Christmas movie going straight to the streaming service. Marc Lawrence (Music and Lyrics) directed this fantasy adventure comedy about Nicole (or Noelle?) Claus, Santa’s daughter, played by Anna Kendrick. The story sees her having to take over the family business. Co-starring are Bill Hader as Santa’s son, Julie Hagerty as Mrs. Claus, and John Goodman as St. Nick himself. Noelle will also feature Shirley MacLaine playing an elf, and Billy Eichner as a character whom is yet to be announced. While there’s no information indicating whether it is or isn’t, I could definitely see this becoming a musical of sorts. Maybe not a full-on musical with a number every 15 minutes, but definitely with some songs here and there.
The Paper Magician
This is a movie based on Charlie N. Holmberg’s “Paper Magician” fantasy book series about Ceony Twill’s life as an apprentice in paper magic. The first book in the trilogy is, of course, titled “The Paper Magician.” The next three so far are “The Glass Magician,” “The Master Magician,” and “The Plastic Magician.” This leads to the question of will this feature-length adaptation scripted by Ashleigh Powell (The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) just be about the first book, or will it include bits and pieces from all four? Or will The Paper Magician end with a cliffhanger only for us to discover that they’ll be making the whole series into films?
The Parent Trap
Yes, Disney is making another version of the Parent Trap story. This will be, counting the sequels, the sixth film, all of them originally adapted from the book by Erich Kästner. I shouldn’t even have to explain the plot at this point, as we’re all familiar with the story of twin sisters who were raised separately due to the divorce of their parents. They grow up, not knowing that they’re each a twin until they meet by chance at a summer camp. The announcement of this remake is pretty fresh, as it wasn’t public knowledge until February 2018, so as of now we don’t know much in regards to the cast and crew. Unlike the first two films, maybe in this one Disney will have actual twins playing the roles of the two girls.
The original story of Stargirl comes from a young adult novel by Jerry Spinelli about a boy named Leo moving from Pennsylvania to Arizona. Four years after he moves to Arizona, a girl named Susan ‘Stargirl’ Caraway who was previously homeschooled starts attending public school. The two develop a friendship despite Stargirl’s quirky ways that deem her strange and unpopular in school. One of the many oddball things that Stargirl does is bring a ukulele to school to serenade students on their birthday. The role of Stargirl will be played by Grace Vanderwaal, the 12-year-old Season 11 winner of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Vanderwaal won for her vocal talent, which she often accompanied with a ukulele. She earned Howie Mandel’s golden buzzer at her audition, and Simon Cowell called her the next Taylor Swift. While Vanderwaal’s vocal capabilities are apparent, Stargirl will be her first acting credit.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
This is nothing new, as the 3D CGI animated TV series has been around since 2008. After previous runs on Cartoon Network and Netflix, Disney is resurrecting the show and moving it to the streaming service for Season 7. The last episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars aired in 2015, and the show will again be concluding after the release of this new season in 2019.
The Sword in the Stone
The original The Sword in the Stone from 1963 is my favorite Disney movie, so I have mixed feelings about this live-action remake. The animated film is based on T.H. White’s novel and follows the story of a young boy named Arthur (called Wart), who is tutored under the wizard Merlin until he reaches his destiny and becomes King Arthur of legend. As far as I’m concerned, this remake seems to be pretty safe when it comes to the possibility of changing things from the original. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) is set to direct with Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones) writing the screenplay. While there is nothing set in regards to casting announced yet, principal production is supposed to begin in September in Northern Ireland.
Three Men and a Baby
As far as we know, this is just going to be a straight remake of the 1987 movie starring Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson (which itself was a redo of the 1985 French comedy Three Men and a Cradle). The plot of the film is self-explanatory based on the title: three men find themselves taking care of a baby left on their doorstep. There isn’t a director or a writer attached to this remake just yet, nor is there any casting information. But if it’s popular, we can probably also expect a redo of the sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady.
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) is directing this adaptation of the book series of the same name by Stephan Pastis, who will also be penning the screenplay. It’s the story of 11-year-old Timmy Failure, a self-proclaimed detective who works alongside his partner, an imaginary polar bear, and his sidekick Rollo Tookus, at his own agency, Total Failure Inc. As of now, Ophelia Lovibond will play Patty Failure, Timmy’s single mother.
Togo, I believe, is the only production on this list that will be based on a true story. Togo was a Siberian Husky that was the leader of a sled dog team in the 1925 serum run to Nome. Born smaller than the other pups, Togo was ill as a puppy and required an extra amount of care. However, he proved his worth and led a successful run. Disney may want to make the ending a bit more family-friendly than the harsh reality that Togo was euthanized in 1929 when he was 16 years old. Or at least stay clear of including the dog’s death.
Untitled Marvel Series
There is nothing to go on regarding what this Marvel series will be, but we do know it will be a live-action show and presumably will be tied to the MCU.
Untitled Star Wars Live-Action Series
In November 2017, Bob Iger stated that there were a number of Star Wars series underway for the new streaming service but didn’t give much further information. Now we know that in addition to continuation of the existing Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, Jon Favreau will be directing a 10-episode series which will cost roughly $100 million. “Star Wars is a big world, and Disney’s new streaming service affords a wonderful opportunity to tell stories that stretch out over multiple chapters,” Favreau told The New York Times. When exactly will the series take place and which characters will it follow? While that’s all unknown, Star Wars fans can still be excited about more space opera content coming their way.