June 3, 2019
Disney have announced that later this year they're launching a streaming service intended to rival Netflix & Amazon Prime Video. They've literally just acquired Hulu, and news has spread that the platform won't just include Disney tv shows and movies, but will be a 'true Netflix competitor' featuring non-Disney shows and movies too. Wow. This is a problem.
Disney already have huge control in Hollywood - having just completed a merger with Fox and, as mentioned, the acquisition of Hulu. The idea of a Disney streaming platform having the same appeal as Netflix & Amazon Prime Video (rumours are that the price will be under $10 per month) is a bit scary, particularly for independent film makers and creatives.
One of the things I love about Amazon Prime, and even Netflix these days, is the huge amount of content from independent creators and the huge number of shows and movies based on original ideas that millions of people can easily access. Seriously, some of the best stuff on both of these platforms is from indie filmmakers and is born from completely original ideas. Think about some of the most popular stuff on Netflix - Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. These are original ideas from creatives, Netflix took a risk through funding the creation of these shows and movies, and because of their faith in original and independent ideas, we've been treated to some of the best tv and film in the history of mankind.
That's now how Disney work, not anymore at least. Take a look at their upcoming animated films scheduled for release in 2019:
Toy Story 4
The Lion King (live action reboot)
Safe ideas, reboots, existing properties, things we've already seen and know and LOVE. They don't take risks or punts. That's why they refuse to let characters like Avengers or Spider-Man move on. Even their 'original' ideas are based on concepts we're already very comfortable with as an audience. There's a Disney film called 'Onward' coming out next summer about 2 brothers embarking on a quest to see if there is any magic left in the world. Not exactly a 6 episode min-series/movie a la The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, is it?
Also, let's talk about Star Wars. They bought this incredible franchise for billions, relied on including things in the film we already knew to get our assess in cinema seats, and now 3 films in to the Disney Star Wars films, people are sick and tired of it. They have a lot of money, but they're not brilliant with it.
You might say - "well, if the Disney streaming service sucks then we'll just go back to Netflix!". I don't think the majority of people will. Ultimately, our wallets and preference towards "safe" films and tv shows will lead the decision. And if Disney is going to have this service as cheap as rumoured, plus if they're streaming films like Star Wars, The Lion King and Avengers for the rest of time, then Netflix and Amazon could be in serious trouble. But hey, at least we'll get the Deadpool/Star Wars crossover we've all been dreaming about, right?
So in summary, I'm worried about what the future holds for independent creators and original ideas in a Disney led streaming world. All we can do is keep seeking out new, exciting and original ideas.