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Disney Plus could get theatrical release of three more movies

"Peter Pan," "Pinnochio" and "Cruella" could land on the family-friendly streamer instead of movie theaters.

"Peter Pan," "Pinnochio" and "Cruella" could land on the family-friendly streamer instead of movie theaters.

(Logo: Walt Disney Company/Handout, Graphic: The Desk)

Executives at the Walt Disney Company are mulling the possibility of releasing several feature-length films on its Disney Plus streaming service, bypassing its long-standing practice of releasing motion pictures in traditional movie theaters.

Studio executives are weighing the possibility of releasing three live-action reboots of its classic animated films on Disney Plus. Among the films:

  • Peter Pan and Wendy starring Yara Shahidi;
  • Pinnochio starring Tom Hanks; and
  • Cruella starring Emma Stone and Emma Thompson.

Disney has not made a final decision about where those films will be released, but as the global health pandemic continues — and, in some cases, worsens to the point where some non-essential businesses are beginning to shut down once again — studio executives are strongly considering the option of releasing the films directly to consumers through its Disney Plus service.

News of Disney’s deliberation over the films was first reported Thursday by Deadline Hollywood.

The move comes after rival studio WarnerMedia, which is owned by AT&T, said it would release its holiday film “Wonder Woman 1984” direct to consumers through its $15 a month HBO Max streaming service. The movie will be released on the service for a full month; it will also see a limited release in domestic movie theaters on Christmas Day.

Disney has found a significant amount of success with its Disney Plus streaming service: The subscription-based video on demand product has more than 70 million global subscribers as of the end of October, according to company officials.

It also found rare success in releasing a feature-length film meant for theatrical distribution directly to consumers, a move made in response to the health pandemic: Earlier this year, it offered the live-action reboot of “Mulan” to Disney Plus subscribers for an extra $30 on top of their normal monthly or annual service fee ($7 a month or $70 a year; some Verizon customers receive it for free).

After Mulan’s release, Disney officials said there was a strong likelihood it would release more films in this manner with a premium price tag for subscribers. It isn’t clear if the three films in question will be released with a premium price or offered to subscribers for free — next month, a Pixar film will be released at no additional cost to customers.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).