The Disney Plus streaming service – or “Disney+”, as the entertainment giant is styling it – is the biggest new competitor to the existing streaming service landscape in years. But in a market populated with options such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or even the slightly weaker Apple TV Plus, what does Disney have that these other services don’t?
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A hell of a lot, it turns out.
Disney Plus is your one-stop video destination for movies, TV series, and cartoons from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel – packing plenty of existing movies and TV shows along with a stack of brand-new content. With Disney’s acquisition of Fox long since completed, we’ll also be getting 30 seasons of The Simpsons, and eventually classic series like Malcolm in the Middle, on this new service. And it’s finally upon us.
UPDATE: Here’s what’s new with Disney Plus. Disney Plus finally has a UK release date – March 31, 2020! Read on for more. Avengers: Endgame will be joining the Marvel films and TV shows arriving with Disney Plus on day one. You’ll also be able to see James Cameron’s 2009 epic Avatar on the platform, which should kill some time until more Star Wars TV shows arrive in the next few years.
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So far, the Disney Plus streaming service has only been released in the Netherlands – giving residents a free trial as Disney tests out its platform, before a global launch begins on November 12 – and we’ve examined what Disney Plus offers so far (see our hands on Disney Plus review for more on the interface and feel of the platform).
Disney has also released a massive three-hour-long trailer to give us a sneak peak at the many movies coming to Disney Plus. It doesn’t include every launch title – the video is named “Basically Everything Coming to Disney+ in the US” – but it successfully showcases just how much stuff you’ll get to choose from on November 12.
Those films are technically going to be available in perpetuity as well; according to CEO Bob Iger, when you download a movie from Disney Plus, you’ll still be able to watch it even if it gets cut from the service.
With just days until launch, we now know exactly what to expect when Disney Plus lands in the US and Canada on November 12. Read on for everything we know about movies, staggered release dates in different territories, and much more.
Disney Plus FAQ: quick questions answered
- What is Disney Plus? An online streaming platform for Disney-owned movies and TV shows. Yes, it’s like Netflix, but with Disney.
- When will Disney Plus launch? November 12, 2019 in the US and Canada (November 19, 2019 in Australia and New Zealand). March 31, 2020 in the UK and most of Europe. A test version is already live in the Netherlands, and it officially launches on November 12.
- What will Disney Plus cost? $6.99/month in the US (or $69.99 per year), $8.99 in Australia and Canada ($89.99 per year), $9.99 in New Zealand ($99.99 per year), and €6.99 in the Netherlands (€69.99 per year). No UK price has been announced.
- Where can I find it? Disney Plus will launch on iOS, Android, Apple TV, PS4, Xbox One, Amazon’s Fire Stick, browsers, and Android TV.
- Will Disney Plus beat Netflix? There will likely be room for both services, given how different the content will be. If you have to pick one, we pit Disney Plus vs Netflix to see who the real winner is likely to be.
- What Disney Plus channels are there? Disney Plus is an OTT streaming service, so doesn’t have channels in the traditional sense, though it will be organized through five central content hubs for Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic. It will also feature content from Fox, like The Simpsons.
Our first look at the Disney Plus interface
Disney Plus release date and launch times
The Disney Plus streaming service will launch on November 12, 2019 in the US, Canada and The Netherlands, with launches in New Zealand and Australia on November 19. On November 12, Disney Plus has a launch time of 3AM PT/5AM CET/ 6AM ET, according to an official countdown clock.
Disney Plus has a UK release date of March 31, 2020. That’s a long wait if you want to see what happens in The Mandalorian. Germany, France, Italy and Spain will get Disney Plus at the same time, Disney confirmed.
Disney will be looking to bring the Disney Plus platform to “all major markets within the first two years”, so expect most countries to get it over time (via ScreenRant).
Disney Plus cost
Though Disney Plus only put out its US pricing at first, we now have details about a lot more territories. Disney Plus will cost $6.99/m (around £6 / AU$10) in the US, $8.99 in Australia and Canada, $9.99 in New Zealand, and €6.99 in the Netherlands. Slightly cheaper yearly plans will be available, too. No UK pricing has yet been announced, but different pricing tiers will be part of the offering. In fact, we have a dedicated guide talking about Disney Plus sign up price and comparisons to other major streaming services.
In the US, this means it looks like Disney has kept its promise about undercutting Netflix – at least for now.
“I can say that our plan on the Disney side is to price this substantially below where Netflix is. That is in part reflective of the fact that it will have substantially less volume,” said Robert Iger, Disney’s chairman and CEO. “It’ll have a lot of high quality [content], because of the brands and the franchises that will be on it that we’ve talked about. But it’ll simply launch with less volume, and the price will reflect that.”
Iger also suggested that the price could rise gradually over time as the service grows, which wouldn’t be a massive surprise. This is exactly what has happened with Netflix as its investment in original content has escalated over the last few years.
- Check out these Disney Plus prices and bundles
Following that, though, Disney made a big pitch with its plans for a subscription bundle that will certainly rival Netflix in terms of cost – while possibly offering just as much value. The US-focused bundle will include Hulu (with ads), ESPN+ and Disney Plus for $12.99 per month – the same price as Netflix’s Standard subscription. If you enjoy all three services, that’s potentially a steal, especially as more adult content now owned by Disney will find a home on Hulu.
Disney already has a streaming service in the UK, DisneyLife, which offers some of its films and content like The Clone Wars for £5 per month. It lacks the big hitter Marvel and Star Wars movies, though. When revealing the March release date, Disney also explained to customers that this service will be rebranded as Disney Plus when the launch happens.
New episodes of The Clone Wars are coming to Disney Plus.
Disney Plus app: which devices and platforms support it?
Where will you be able to find the Disney Plus app? It’s on pretty much every major platform. Disney has announced the list of platforms that will support Disney Plus at launch, including Apple TV, Roku streaming devices, Google Chromecast, iOS and Android, PS4 and Xbox One – as well as the Android TV platform that supports Nvidia Shield TV, Sony TVs, and Hisense TVs.
Amazon’s Fire TV will also be supported at launch, it was revealed in November. That’s handy, especially since Amazon Prime will be carrying Disney Plus shows in at least one territory from launch.
We caught wind of a planned Disney Plus app for Nintendo Switch – despite the trouble other streaming services aside from YouTube and Hulu have had getting onto the Nintendo Switch console – though all signs suggest that won’t be happening in 2019.
Will Disney Plus have 4K HDR streams?
So what kind of video quality can we expect from Disney Plus streams? Disney Plus will stream to up to four devices simultaneously in 4K resolution and HDR (high dynamic range) at no extra cost – with up to seven user profiles on the platform. Not all content is available in 4K / HDR, of course, and naturally you’ll still need a 4K TV to watch the content that is.
Netflix, by comparison, requires a premium plan to get 4K / HDR streams. This makes the all-in-one price point even more attractive.
Even better, according to Dolby, the service will support both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, making it a fantastic choice for movie lovers.
Disney Plus: Marvel TV shows and films
What a time to be alive, Marvel fans: alongside a massive library of MCU movies on Disney Plus, you can look forward to Marvel TV shows and spin-offs featuring your favorite superheroes. One report suggested these shows will have budgets of $25 million an episode.
The first of these MCU shows will be Falcon and The Winter Soldier (starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan), coming in Q3 / Fall 2020, around a year after Disney Plus goes live. It’ll be six episodes long, and will feature the return of Civil War’s Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl).
The many fans of Tom Hiddleston will be happy to hear that next in the new Marvel line-up will be the Loki TV show, a six-episode miniseries starring the trickster god. We also know from San Diego Comic-Con that the series will kick off after Loki’s sudden escape in Avengers: Endgame, via the Tesseract. No doubt he’ll get into plenty of mischief as a result.
2021 will also see WandaVision, a spin-off following Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) that will tie into the events of the Doctor Strange sequel – and a Hawkeye TV show, with Jeremy Renner reprising the role, and mentoring a new iteration of Hawkeye, Kate Bishop.
It’s Hawkeye’s time to shine!
Marvel’s head of television, Jeph Loeb, did say there’ll be more “street-level heroes” coming to the Disney Plus service too, with Marvel TV shows set to replace or expand on the likes of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and The Defenders – all of which were cancelled on Netflix (via Deadline). Since then, however, Loeb’s upcoming exit has been reported (via THR), and Kevin Feige now oversees the TV division that was previously separate from the rest of Marvel Studios.
Interestingly, there’s also going to be a Marvel TV show that puts a different spin on the MCU. Called Marvel’s What If…?, the animated series is based on a comics series where reality played out a little differently for our favorite superheroes and villains. Like how would Agent Peggy Carter have fared if she’d taken the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers? Many Marvel actors will be reprising their roles for this anthology show, making it much more than just a weird curio.
At Disney’s D23 Expo in late August, now-Marvel CCO Kevin Feige announced three new series – She-Hulk, Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel – that would all debut on the service, too, vastly expanding the MCU by introducing all-new characters. Even with those coming, there are plenty of Marvel spin-offs we still want to see make the jump to the small screen.
When it comes to older MCU movies, we can expect those to be pulled from Netflix as soon as contracts run out before being moved across to Disney Plus when it launches. In an earnings call with investors, Disney CEO Bob Iger clarified that 2019’s Captain Marvel would be the first Disney movie exclusive to the service – and on November 6, it was confirmed that Avengers Endgame will be launching on November 12 when the service goes live, too, moving from a previous December date.
Disney Plus: Star Wars TV shows and films
You may remember that Disney bought Star Wars back in 2012, meaning it now has the rights to the entire library of movies, as well as the ability to make original programming set in that universe. Expect plenty of Star Wars films and TV shows on Disney Plus as a result. Every movie from Episodes I-VII will arrive on day one, with later films and spin-offs arriving in 2020.
Launching with Disney Plus on November 12 is The Mandalorian, a show created by Jon Favreau (the director of Iron Man and The Jungle Book). It stars a Boba Fett-resembling character continuing the legacy of the bounty hunter, and the trailers sure make it look like full-fat Star Wars. This show has a rumored budget of $15 million per episode.
It’s not the only new Star Wars episodic content confirmed for Disney Plus, either. Rogue One’s Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) will also get his own prequel TV series exploring his life before the events of the 2016 film. Even if Disney’s CEO thinks there are too many Star Wars movies coming out, the TV schedule is only getting more packed.
Also officially confirmed is an Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series, with Ewan McGregor to reprise his role from the prequel movies, and a seventh season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. But you can check out exactly what films and TV series are hitting the service in our Disney Plus Star Wars guide.
Disney Plus: The Simpsons and Fox content
Disney’s acquisition of Fox was a very, very big deal – especially for Disney Plus.
Fox own the rights to a huge amount of classic television, including The Simpsons, which will see every episode in its 30-year history come to the Disney Plus streaming service.
Fox used to hold the keys to the X-Men franchise, putting big restrictions on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (such as the word ‘mutant’ never being used onscreen). The merger now means those characters can appear in the MCU, along with the Fantastic Four. They’re likely to be saved for movies rather than TV shows, but either way, one day you’re likely to see MCU projects based on both coming to Disney Plus.
Disney Plus will also be getting a selection of animated ’90s cartoon classics, like X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man. The big Fox movie arriving on day one for Disney Plus is James Cameron’s Avatar. Fox movies like The Princess Bride and The Sound of Music will follow. You can expect a reboot of Home Alone coming down the pipe, too, which we were all definitely asking for.
Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan (2020) will be coming to Disney Plus too.
Other Disney Plus movies, shows, and exclusives
Marvel and Star Wars might be the highlights, but the Disney Plus originals extend far beyond superheroes and space. A gigantic selection of additional new shows and TV series are in the works, including a new Monsters Inc. project called Monsters at Work (coming in 2020), and a fresh mockumentary take on the evergreen High School Musical series that, brace yourself, is called High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. The latter arrives at launch on November 12. An original Christmas film called Noelle is also arriving with Disney Plus at launch, starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader.
For classic Disney lovers there’ll be a live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp (landing on November 12), while ’90s animation fans will eventually get a new live-action Mulan that will hit both theaters and the streaming service. Deadline suggests that projects based on Don Quixote, Sword and the Stone, and 3 Men and a Baby are in the works, along with other projects titled The Paper Magician, Togo, and Timmy Failure. A game show called The Big Fib was also ordered in November 2019.
If you’re more interested in Disney’s many decades of animated movies, however, the company says it will include every flick that’s ever been locked away in the Vault. That may include some of the first, harder-to-find Mickey Mouse pictures.
Younger kids will have plenty to watch, with programming from Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD.
Disney Plus will also be a home for DisneyNature documentaries, including Dolphin Reef – narrated by actress Natalie Portman. Disney Nature works both in documentary films and animation, and will also be bringing animated feature Penguins to the Disney Plus service. A documentary series called The World According to Jeff Goldblum will also start when the series arrives. It’s pretty much what you’d expect it to be from the title.
All of Disney Plus’s original shows will roll out on a weekly basis, unlike services like Netflix and Amazon where every episode tends to drop at once.
Will Disney Plus have classic Disney movies?
Heck yes. It’s been confirmed that every Disney film ever made is destined for the service, so everything from Snow White to Frozen 2 should be available on Disney Plus at some point after launch.
What will Disney Plus be missing?
The Disney streaming service won’t have content from outside of the Disney ecosystem, as far as we know. The reason you see such a vast range of content on Hulu and Netflix is because they have a big web of licensing deals with external studios. Disney Plus is a more focused offering.
But, of course, Disney has plenty of content to draw from, especially with a slow drip of Fox movies and shows to come. It’s also worth noting that there won’t be any R-rated or adult-oriented content on the service. Expect mature-oriented Fox films to go to Hulu instead, according to a report from Deadline.
Even though Disney now owns Fox, for example, that doesn’t mean you’ll start seeing Deadpool swearing on Disney Plus. There’s talk however of a PG-13 take on Deadpool 2’s X-Force for the platform (via ComicBook).
Sorry, Deadpool, but you’re too adult for Disney Plus.
It’s pretty obvious, but the Marvel TV original series on Netflix won’t be crossing over to the new Disney Plus service – as far as we know. That means the likes of Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones won’t be rebooted on Disney Plus in their current iterations. They’ve all been axed anyway, but we can’t see them leaving Netflix any time soon. It’s possible you’ll see them return some day, but maybe it’s better to leave that era of the characters behind.
What you will see on Disney Plus, though, is the dreadful Inhumans series from 2017. That arrives on Day One.
Should I subscribe to Disney Plus?
We’ll be able to answer this definitively at launch on November 12, but the pricing and content give us a good feeling. The bigger question will be whether you’ll want to keep subscribing for long haul, when a lot of the more exciting original content is a year or more away. That’s a challenge for Disney when Netflix is shotgunning out original series pretty much every week.
That said, Disney has a gigantic vault to tap into, and it makes the most successful films in the world. As unique selling points go, that’s pretty spectacular. Becoming the prime destination for movies like Frozen 2 or the live-action Lion King is such a straightforward proposition. It doesn’t have to replace Netflix or Hulu: it can live alongside them, offering a very straighforward function as part of your streaming life.
The Disney streaming service won’t be as comprehensive or wide-ranging as some rivals, but Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel fans might have trouble resisting some of the original shows and movies coming down the pipeline. Not to mention fans of Jeff Goldblum.
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Original reporting by Andrew Hayward.