Disney+ rapidly expanding original content


Photo by Disney

Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, stands in front of some of the new content for Disney+ that was announced at Disney Investor Day 2020.

Garrison Sloan, Editor-in-Chief

On November 12th, 2019, Disney entered into the streaming market by launching their new service, Disney+. At launch, the main draw of Disney+ compared to other streaming services was the strong IPs owned by Disney, which includes the entire catalogues of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars films. However, the platform lacked a major key to success: hit original shows and limited series. At launch and through 2020, Disney+ only had one such series, The Mandalorian, a high-budget space-western set in the Star Wars universe. However, at Disney’s investor day back in early December, the company announced that that would soon be changing, as a massive slate of original series, mainly for the Marvel and Star Wars IPs, will be coming in 2021 and beyond. 

Following the release of Avengers: Endgame in 2019, it looked like Marvel Studios was ready for a new beginning of sorts, as the film wrapped up the “Infinity Saga,” a narrative that spanned nearly 11 years and over 20 films. It now seems that not only will Marvel be telling a new extended story, they’re also going to be adding a new medium for it to be told in. Marvel launched their first streaming series, WandaVision, on January 15th, a deeply weird yet compelling mystery series starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany. WandaVision, however, will not be the studio’s only series launching this year. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are set to star in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which will release in March. Just two months later will come the release of Loki, with Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as the god of mischief from the Marvel films. Over the summer the studio will release What If…?, an animated series that will explore alternate outcomes to some of the Marvel films. Finally, two series, Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel, will be released at an unannounced point near the end of 2021. Additionally, Marvel has announced 6 other shows that will premiere after 2021: Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Secret Invasion, Ironheart, Armor Wars, and a kids series titled I am Groot.

Moving over to the world of Star Wars, there’s another large slate of content being prepared. Following the massive success of the first two seasons of The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm announced that they will be producing several spinoff shows following characters introduced in that series, which will eventually culminate in a shared narrative (WARNING: This next section contains spoilers for Season 2 of The Mandalorian). The first of these will be The Book of Boba Fett, which will star Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen, and will release in late December 2021. The Book of Boba Fett will be followed by the release of Season 3 of The Mandalorian sometime in early 2022. Capping off the entries into the Mando-verse will be Ahsoka, starring Rosario Dawson, and Rangers of the New Republic. Neither series has a specified release date. Multiple other series set in the Star Wars universe have also been announced, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, Lando, and The Acolyte, though none currently have a release date. Various other Lucasfilm projects, both related and unrelated to the Star Wars universe are also in development. 

All of this content will, unfortunately, not come without a cost to consumers. With the reveal of many of these new shows, Disney also announced that the Disney+ subscription cost will be going up from $6.99 a month to $7.99 a month. Their bundle package, which includes Hulu and ESPN+ alongside Disney+, will also see a price increase from $13.99 to $14.99. This change is set to take effect in March, and with the increased costs necessary to produce original shows for Disney+ alongside Disney’s normal slate of movies, it would not be surprising to eventually see the cost increased further. 

Disney, the world’s second-largest entertainment company, is looking to maintain its dominance in the industry, with a massive schedule of new shows for its streaming service that stretches past 2022. While all this content will come at the cost of higher subscription fees, for fans of the Marvel and Star Wars franchises, that is likely a price they’ll well be willing to pay.