Disney’s new online service, Disney+, is set to squash its competition when it premieres Nov. 12 — dropping a staggering 60 years worth of family entertainment into cyberspace.
Nobody else is offering all this content — and at only $6.99 per month — and nobody (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon et al.) else has this lineup: all of the “Star Wars” films, Marvel’s “Iron Man” and “X-Men” franchises and beloved live-action classics such as “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Freaky Friday.” The treasure trove also includes the animated films “Fantasia,” “Toy Story,” and a separate library of TV series (everything from “Hannah Montana” to every season of “The Simpsons” to National Geographic specials). It’s that extensive.
Details of the launch were unveiled to the press, documentary filmmakers and some very ardent fans at two separate events last weekend in Hollywood. Disney+ executives Agnes Chu and Dan Silver were positively buoyant at the Neuehouse as they discussed their commitment to “stories that exhibit the core values of our brand,” i.e, optimism and ingenuity. Their programming slate encompasses reality television, sci-fi, documentaries and somebody as out there as Jeff Goldblum. “The Good Place” star Kristen Bell will host “Encore!,” a nostalgic reality series that will be nicknamed “ ‘Glee’ for adults” as it allows them to go back to high school and perform live theater again. Goldblum will take a page from the late Anthony Bourdain’s playbook and explore disparate topics such as tattoos, sneakers and ice cream in “The World According to Jeff Goldblum.”
Disney devotees can’t miss “ The Imagineering Story,” a six-week deep-dive into the company’s evolution that reveals, among other gems, how the “It’s a Small World” boat ride was expanded from its introduction at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York to become a centerpiece of the Disney theme parks, and the composition of the song by the Sherman Brothers that you hear when you take the ride. “Everybody wants to kiss or kill us for having written the song,” says Richard M. Sherman.
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The series is produced and directed by Leslie Iwerks, whose grandfather, Ub Iwerks, was co-creator of Mickey Mouse.
Twenty-seven minutes of “The Mandalorian” were shown at the London Hotel the next day. Insatiable “Star Wars” fans, many of them 3-D themselves, stampeded into a screening room to photograph each other in front of the display art for the series, which takes place five years after the events of “Return of the Jedi,” and to roar their approval of select battle scenes. Afterward, star Pedro Pascal, who did not remove his helmet in his portrayal of the lone bounty hunter, discussed the filming of the show with co-stars Carl Weathers and Gina Carano and creator Jon Favreau. Toy figures of The Mandalorian and Cara Dune, among other characters, have already been manufactured and were available on a folding table after the screening. It felt like Christmas in October.
November usually signals a winding down of the year for TV, with mainly pedestrian Christmas movies competing with broadcast fare. No more. It looks like the fall TV landscape is about to undergo a seismic shift.
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