Disney is about to launch Disney+, it’s high-profile streaming service loaded with tons of movies from their past as well as several original titles. It’s all part of the House of Mouse’s plan to finally embrace the world of streaming while also taking on Netflix. Is the gamble going to pay off? All signs point to yes. There’s enough nostalgia built-in for Disney titles of the past, and interest in new original Star Wars and Marvel shows to draw a crowd. But a new profile details that putting all of this together ended up costing Disney and arm and a leg.
The Hollywood Reporter has a huge profile on Disney’s plans for Disney+, their streaming service. The piece includes an interview with Disney Chairman Bob Iger in which Iger dishes on all the work – and money – that’s gone into getting this thing together. To get Disney+ off the ground, Iger has “invested $2.6 billion to acquire the necessary technology, shuffled his executive ranks to create a new direct-to-consumer division, forgone $150 million in annual income by ending the studio’s output deal with Netflix and even spent $71.3 billion for the 21st Century Fox assets to beef up Disney’s production capabilities and content library.”
“The first thing I did was make sure that the library was going to be ready for our launch,” Senior VP of Content Agnes Chu tells THR. “It was everything from going into our vault and physically looking at things that had not yet been restored to [paging through] binders of pieces of paper with legal deals.” Chu also met with people like Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to discuss potential Star Wars TV shows for the platform. Then there was the decision to take some movies Disney had slated and move them from a theatrical release to a streaming debut. That doesn’t mean Disney is going to forgo theatrical releases, though.
“There are films that work really well in theaters and require the big screen,” Chu says, adding that “Disney doesn’t plan on changing any windows to bring them sooner to Disney+, which means there will be around a seven-month wait for titles like the upcoming Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to hit the service (Toy Story 4 should become available in early 2020).”
So how much is all of this going to ultimately cost? A lot. Disney is “projecting a 2020 original content budget short of $1 billion.” Where’s all that money going? Well, The Mandalorian reportedly costs $15 million per episode, while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision and Hawkeye could run as much as $25 million per episode. Disney can obviously afford costs like this since they own everything. But Disney is going to need Disney+ to be a rousing success to make all of this worth it.