Disney Plus and HBO Max becoming major players in streaming

Ryder Rasmussen, Lead Arts & Entertainment Editor

On December 10, Disney held a virtual investor day presentation, available for anybody to watch from the comfort of their home. Here they touched on upcoming projects, mostly centered around Disney originals as well as Marvel and Star Wars projects currently in the works and set to release within the next few years. All of the shows they announced are Disney Plus exclusives. The sheer amount of content that subscribers to Disney Plus will receive is hard to fathom. Fifteen new Disney/Pixar series, along with 10 new shows each from Marvel and Star Wars.

In the past year since its launch, the successful streaming platform has been praised for its seemingly endless catalogue of content. However, the only Disney Plus original to become a major hit, thus far, has been The Mandalorian. With that in mind, this announcement has many of Disney’s 86 subscribers like me really excited for the future of this streaming service. Rather than having to wait a year between seasons of The Mandalorian for something new to watch, 2021 will see the year packed with original shows which are sure to be extremely popular with audiences. Disney Plus will most likely gain even more credibility and praise among other streaming competitors. In the next year we might start hearing more and more comparisons between Disney Plus and Netflix.

Speaking of other streaming services, this announcement comes off the heels of Warner Bros.’s reveal that all its 2021 theatrical releases will also be available to stream on HBO Max, same day of release. While this news is great for consumers and HBO Max itself, this decision has already caused conflict between Warner Bros. and the writers, producers, directors, actors, etc. of their movies. Christopher Nolan, writer and director of Tenet, in particular, has publicly bashed the company after finding out about their decision. Not only did the decision make a bad situation even worse for filmmakers, Warner Bros. apparently gave no heads up to these creators.

Disney, in contrast, has had a mix of different reactions to limited theater openings. At one point they had the 2020 remake of Mulan on Disney Plus, along with an extra $30 fee to watch it. With the upcoming Pixar movie, Soul, there was initially hesitation to release the film before announcing it will be available at no additional cost on Disney Plus, Christmas Day. And with Marvel’s Black Widow, the movie continues to get pushed back again and again, with no near release in sight.

2020 has been a rough year for the movie industry. Many studios have had to resort to digital releases for their films, as many theaters are not allowed to open. Even the ones still open are limited in how many people they can fit per theater. Thankfully for people at home, there’s been a lot of great TV to hold us over during this time, and streaming has boomed in the past few months. Many saw streaming as the future of TV even before the pandemic hit, and it’s looking like 2021 will only get closer to that becoming a reality.