Earlier this year, we got some happy news: Disney and Lin-Manuel Miranda planned to bring Hamilton to theaters in October 2021.
But everything is chaos now, and releases continue to be bumped around. While that means most movies are getting bumped back to later this year or next, one bright spot is Hamilton, which Disney announced will now be coming to Disney+ on July 3 – yes, this July 3rd, almost a full year and a half before it was scheduled to hit theaters.
On one hand, it’s a bummer that Hamilton will be heading to streaming instead of hitting theaters, as it was the closest most of us would ever have gotten to snagging tickets to the seemingly forever sold-out Broadway musical. And I will forever believe that it’s better to see a spectacle event with so much energy as Hamilton on a big screen and with a bunch of people rather than on a TV or laptop screen. On the other hand, one of the few complaints about Disney+ is that it doesn’t yet have enough new or original content to justify the expense of adding yet another streaming platform to one’s list. With Artemis Fowl now heading to Disney+ in June and now Hamilton headed to the platform on, fittingly, July 4th weekend, that’s two big new properties landing on Disney+ within a few weeks of each other.
In a recent interview, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that Disney absolutely believes in the theatrical release and that movie theaters are where big tentpoles belong. But they’re being strategic about what movies to send to the streaming platform, instead. It’s smart. The subscriber count for Disney+, which launched in November of last year, just surpassed 50 million with projections for it to pass the 200 million subscribers mark by 2025, just five years after launch. If they can pick and choose specific titles to head to the streaming platform instead of getting a theatrical release, so much the better for them. It means more subscribers to Disney+, which is keeping them alive and thriving at a time that movie theaters and theme parks are mostly shuttered.
Out of strategy and necessity, Disney+ might end up getting more original content, and sooner, than was ever originally planned. And while we’re all still unable to go to theaters, that can only be a good thing for us.