Disney executive chairman Bob Iger says the company might not be done releasing films early on Disney+.
In a recent interview with Barrons, Iger spoke about how business at Disney has changed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. When asked about the status of films that were already in production prior to the outbreak of the virus, Iger noted that “there may be a few more that [Disney] end[s] up putting directly onto Disney+.”
Shortly after the outbreak was declared a pandemic, Disney brought Frozen 2 to Disney+ on March 17th, three months ahead of schedule. This was soon followed by Onward, which hit Disney+ on April 3rd. The latter film’s early streaming debut was particularly notable, given that the Pixar adventure had only been in theatres for a few weeks. Finally, Disney confirmed on April 4th that its Artemis Fowl fantasy film would land directly on Disney+ at a yet-to-be-revealed date, thus skipping a theatrical release entirely.
Iger’s recent comments indicate that other Disney films could follow suit. However, the executive also noted that “a lot of the big tentpole Disney films” will simply be released in theatres at a later date. This has already happened with several of the entertainment giant’s most prominent 2020 films, such as Mulan (moved from March to July) and Marvel Studio’s Black Widow (changed from May to November).
Therefore, it remains to be seen what other films might be shifted to Disney+.
Elsewhere in the interview, Iger noted that Disney+ has, unsurprisingly, seen increased interest as more families remain at home during the pandemic. “In this time, it’s probably far more popular than we ever imagined it would be, in part because it’s a welcome relief and a great alternative in terms of entertainment, for people who don’t have access given all the restrictions,” said Iger.
However, Iger didn’t specifically quantify just how much demand the service has seen during the pandemic.