Disney is bumping up the release of its recording of the hit stage musical Hamilton by over a year. Instead of the planned theatrical release set for October 15th, 2021, it’ll be out on July 3rd, 2020, as a Disney Plus exclusive.
It’s a huge move on Disney’s part. The company is effectively canceling its planned theatrical run for the Hamilton recording — which it reportedly paid a record-breaking $75 million for the worldwide rights to — to turn it into a streaming exclusive instead.
The move from theatrical to digital also emphasizes just how much Disney needs content to put on Disney Plus now to keep customers interested in paying that $6.99-per-month subscription. Suspended production on some of its most hyped original shows (like Marvel Studios-produced Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki) means it’s unlikely that any of those original shows will debut in 2020. And with the new major Disney Plus original — the second season of The Mandalorian — not set to premiere until October, Disney needed a big win like Hamilton to keep current subscribers on board and to attract new ones.
Hamilton isn’t the only theatrical release Disney is using to bolster its Disney Plus offerings, however: the company is also planning to release its adaption of the popular Artemis Fowl books on the streaming service on June 12th.
The filmed version of Hamilton isn’t a big-budget film adaptation like the movie versions of Les Misérables, Cats, or the upcoming In the Heights. It’s exactly what it says on the can: a professionally filmed version of the Broadway show that was edited together using recordings shot over three live performances back in 2016 before the original cast members left the production.
But for most people, the Disney Plus version of Lin Manuel Miranda’s show will mark the first time seeing a performance of Hamilton at all, considering the record-breaking ticket prices that the Broadway show demands (along with the geographic limits of only being performed in a few cities around the world, like New York, Chicago, and San Fransisco).
“No other artistic work in the last decade has had the cultural impact of ‘Hamilton’—an inspiring and captivating tale told and performed in a powerfully creative way. In light of the extraordinary challenges facing our world, this story about leadership, tenacity, hope, love and the power of people to unite against the forces of adversity is both relevant and impactful,” said Bob Iger, Disney’s executive chairman (and former CEO) in a press release. “We are thrilled to bring this phenomenon to Disney+ on the eve of Independence Day, and we have the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda and the team behind ‘Hamilton’ to thank for allowing us to do so more than a year before planned.”