Disney’s “Wanda”-ful Vision

The Disney+ streaming service has notched up 73.7 million subscribers worldwide since launching this time last year.

Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement that Disney+ is “far surpassing our expectations in just its first year”.

Deadline Hollywood says Walt Disney’s streaming success has kept its “buzz going and the stock well afloat” amid shuttered theatres and theme parks because of the Covid-19 pandemic (which contributed to an annual loss of $US710 million compared to a $US771 profit the previous financial year).

“Surpassing 73 million subscribers in its first year on the market is no small feat,” Variety reports.

Disney Plus’ 1-year anniversary is exactly today, Nov. 12, and has already wildly outperformed other streaming rivals in its first year out of the gate. For contrast, streaming leader Netflix has over 195 million subscribers, about a third of which are in the U.S. and Canada, but that is a milestone that has taken the better part of a decade to achieve.

Shows like live-action Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian, Beyonce’s Black Is King and the filmed performance of the Broadway production of Hamilton have stirred enthusiasm for Disney Plus, as has the decision to have Mulan bypass movie theatres in favour of premiering directly on the streaming platform amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Disney also plan to debut a global direct-to-consumer general entertainment offering under the Star brand in calendar 2021.

Walt Disney has yet to reveal what Mulan earned as a Premium Video On Demand release, prompting Deadline to observe: “Industry buzz has been that the Mulan experiment, at least on the streaming side, was not a success, given how quiet the studio has been about reporting revenue and viewership figures.”

The next theatrical release to go direct to Disney+ will be Pixar’s Soul on December 25 but it will be available for free rather than PVOD (The Guardian dubbed it a “rapturous tale of a jazz nut on a surreal out-of-body journey” and The Hollywood Reporter “a vintage mix of the company’s intricate storytelling, complex emotional intelligence, technical prowess and cerebral whimsy”).

Co-directed by Pete Docter (Inside Out, Up) and writer Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami), it features the voice talents of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Phylicia Rashad, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Angela Bassett and Daveed Diggs, original jazz music by Jon Batiste, and a score by Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network).

And today Disney+ announced the new Marvel Studios series, WandaVision, would premiere January 15 by releasing a “moving poster” featuring its signature MCU characters in intriguing new surroundings.

It describes WandaVision as “a blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which two super-powered beings living idealised suburban lives — Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) — begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

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