The last week or two has seen the entertainment industry shaken up as Covid-19 has forced massive changes to numerous Hollywood studios’ theatrical release schedules. Several hugely anticipated titles have seen their dates shifted to various points in the future, with some even moving out as far as a year from now. With the virus pandemic raging across the world forcing an ever-increasing number of countries to go into lockdown, this makes complete sense. As world governments discourage social gatherings and urge isolation to help flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections, more folks are working from home while schools are also closing down. And with families cooped up at home, Disney is trying to make that isolation a little better.
This weekend past, much to the delight of fans, the House of Mouse released Frozen 2 on Disney+ more than three months earlier than intended. Speaking in a press release, Disney’s newly-appointed CEO Bob Chapek said that the company was “surprising families with some fun and joy during this challenging period.”
Frozen 2 has captivated audiences around the world through its powerful themes of perseverance and the importance of family, messages that are incredibly relevant during this time, and we are pleased to be able to share this heartwarming story early with our Disney+ subscribers to enjoy at home on any device.
Released last year, Frozen 2 is the biggest animated film of all time with over $1.450 billion in global earnings. It was originally scheduled for release on Disney’s streaming service on 26 June, but is available right now for US subscribers. On the international front, Frozen 2 will be available on Disney+ in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand from tomorrow, Tuesday, 17 March.
The animated box office champ wasn’t the only Disney offering that’s arrived early though. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was supposed to only be made available on digital release tomorrow, but instead popped up on various services this Friday past. The final chapter in the Skywalker Saga is available to watch/rent now on AppleTV, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and other streaming VOD services.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the first of a number of titles appearing early on these streaming services. Frozen 2 certainly arrives at a time when Disney+ needs to have its lineup bolstered urgently. While the streaming service came flying out of the blocks with huge subscription numbers fueled by the release of The Mandalorian, it has seemingly been coasting since then until the release of Marvel’s hotly anticipated shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the WandaVision and Loki. With those shows’ productions paused now due to Covid-19 (not to mention Disney pausing production on all its live-action movies and TV shows), Disney+ needed some other big additions.
At the moment, it’s still unclear if Marvel’s Black Widow will still stick to its April release date, but I would not be surprised if Disney decided to do a simultaneous day-and-date release both in theaters and Disney+. Not only is it a way to minimize release schedule disruptions caused by Covid-19, and but it would definitely be a way to attract new subscribers just like at launch. While most other Hollywood studios don’t have the luxury of their own streaming service to do the same, you would have to think that they at least considering alternative release strategies such as Netflix. These are unprecedented conditions for the industry and some outside the box (box office?) thinking is going to be required.
Last Updated: March 16, 2020