Star Wars remains one of the most successful film franchises in history, and The Mandalorian -- its first-ever live-action series -- is a hit that delivers big numbers week in and week out for Disney+. Still, the audience for The Mandalorian pale in comparison to that of this year's other big Disney+ success story, the filmed version of the beloved stage show Hamilton. Lin-Manduel Miranda's contemporary reimagining of the life of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton is likely the most-watched movie of the year not just on Disney+ but across all platforms, given its consistent success and massive opening.
How is that possible, when Mando is driving social media conversations every week? Well, there are a few factors, but one of them is likely the difference between movies and TV.
One of the reasons that, with rare exceptions like The Office or Game of Thrones, movies are more likely to become cultural phenomena that reach out to virtually everybody is that they can be consumed and understood in one sitting. They also have minimal barrier to entry, since nobody is sitting there thinking they can't watch Hamilton if they didn't see a movie five years ago, or watch ten previous hours of TV. And, without a doubt, Hamilton was a cultural phenomenon even before it hit Disney+ -- after which point it became accessible to far more people who had no capacity, either financially or practiclaly, to see it on Broadway.
Screen Rant broke down the numbers, which if accurate suggest that Hamilton led to a surge in Disney+ signups that represented a 641% increase over what would have been the standard number of signups during that period without a major release. That's about three times as much as they indicate increases for things like The Mandalorian or Frozen II (which, if you recall, got an early release on Disney+ following the start of the pandemic) generated. Those outperformed Mulan and Onward, which both debuted on the platform.
One interesting note is that a huge number of those people seemingly signed up just for Hamilton, with about 30% of the new members dropping the service again after they had a chance to see it. Other projects don't seem to have similarly steep dropoffs, likely suggesting that things like Frozen II and The Mandalorian are more in line with the average DIsney+ user, while Hamilton was attracting a different kind of viewer. At present, Disney+ doesn't have a lot of original content that's similar to Hamilton, which likely makes the service less appealing to the musical's fans, and also probably wreaks havoc on the recommendation algorithms that are supposed to drive you toward other, similar things.
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