Friday, July 3 saw the highly anticipated Hamilton film arrive on the Disney+ streaming platform, debuting well over a year ahead of schedule and in living rooms across the world instead of theaters. The move from traditional theatrical exhibition to their streaming service was a bit of a gamble for Disney but it has clearly paid off big time. Analytics firm Apptopia (via Variety) brings the official data on Disney+ downloads, with the app for the service downloaded 752,451 times globally from Friday to Sunday (458,796 times in the United States alone), an increase of 74% over the average weekend downloads for Disney+ across all of June.
It's worth noting that these numbers don't reflect people that may have signed up for and viewed Hamilton on Disney+ via their web browser their smart TVs, which would likely make this past weekend even more impressive for the House of Mouse.
As stated before the studio initially had the filmed performance of the Tony award winning musical scheduled to be released in theaters in October of 2021. When the coronavirus pandemic began to shut down sets and theaters in March of this year, Disney's Bob Iger reached out to the Hamilton team to see if they would allow for the film's early release on Disney+ rather than a theatrical debut. They initially said no.
“I thought we should stay the course, but I confess that was early in the epidemic, when we thought we might go back to work in the summer,” producer Jeffrey Seller told The New York Times. “As the profundity of this pandemic set in, and I realized we’re not coming back this year, I thought we should reconsider.”
“I’m getting messages every day from folks who had tickets to ‘Hamilton’ and can’t go because of the pandemic," creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda added. "So moving up the release so everyone could experience it this summer felt like the right move."
The filmed version of Hamilton was produced in 2016 with the original Broadway cast and cost the creative team behind it less than $10 million according to NYT, a sum quickly made back after the sold the film to Disney for nearly $75 million. It's worth noting that this deal doesn't give Disney the rights to make an actual feature film adaptation of the show, something that Miranda still holds the rights to and is unsure if it will ever happen.
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