With theaters closed for the foreseeable future, and no significant releases left on the theatrical calendar until July, the film industry is faced with an unprecedented set of circumstances. Streaming is really the only way to get movies to audiences any time soon. so studios are faced with the decision of pushing back an upcoming release, or sending the film to a digital or streaming home. Disney has shifted its release schedule to send most of its movies to theaters at a later date. However, it has announced that the high-budget adaptation of Artemis Fowl will head straight to the Disney+ streaming service. If the pandemic keeps theaters closed longer than expected, more Disney films could follow Artemis Fowl's path.
Movies like Mulan and Black Widow are going to get released in theaters, no matter what. Those are meant to be massive money makers for Disney and the studio isn't going to send them straight to streaming. However, executive chairman Bob Iger is saying that other films could be sent directly to Disney+, depending on how the release schedule shakes out.
"There are some we've decided to put on Disney+. We already announced one, Artemis Fowl, that would have been released in theaters," Iger told Barron's in a recent interview. "Others we've simply delayed. In some cases we've moved things onto Disney+ faster than we would have. Frozen 2 was one of them, but Onward would be the biggest example. It was in theaters when this happened. We moved to a pay-per-view period for a couple of weeks where people could buy it and own it. And then we ended up putting it on Disney+.
"In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we'll simply wait for slots. In some cases we've announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar."
When looking at upcoming Disney films, it's hard to determine exactly which ones are seen as a viable option for streaming release. The Fox-produced New Mutants seems to fit the bill, but may be seen as too dark for the family oriented streaming service. Perhaps Pixar's Soul could be a theatrical casualty, though Pete Docter's films usually perform well at the box office.
What do you think Disney will do with its upcoming slate of movies? Which ones will get sent to Disney+? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!