In 2019 Disney’s own streaming service will debut, and while fans are surely excited, so are the people who will be making the content. It has recently been announced that the service will include brand new shows dedicated to existing characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like the Scarlet Witch, Falcon, and the Winter Soldier. While the new content will follow characters from the film universe, they’ll essentially be TV series, which has Kevin Feige excited because it means the ability to delve deeper into some characters in ways the films simply don’t allow. Speaking with a bunch of other producers at a recent roundtable, Feige said…
But Paul [Greengrass] mentioned the streaming service, and I think that is something that we’re going to be adding content to, which is exciting. I love your analogy with the campfire, right? As many people as you can get around the campfire and tell stories. Campfires can be different: We are going to tell stories for the streaming service that we wouldn’t be able to tell in a theatrical experience — a longer-form narrative, that’s what comics are, it’s about as longform a narrative as exists. But also maintaining that theatrical experience, which is our bread and butter, and the lines around the block, if you’re lucky.
While the MCU has been going strong for 10 years and has told a remarkably long-form narrative in that time, the story of any individual character is only told a couple hours at a time with long gaps in between. The upcoming series that have been reported on for the Disney streaming service, which will be produced by the film side of Marvel Studios rather than the TV division, will mean creating an eight or ten hour series that follows a character on a single adventure, which is certainly a level of depth that theatrically released films simply can’t provide.
Kevin Feige points out that a series like this will take the MCU closer to its origins as comic books than anything previously has. It’s funny how things are coming back around. Originally Marvel found it’s success by taking the shared universe continuity idea out of the comics and into the movie theaters. Now, it begins to circle back to that idea in a more traditional way.
While there have been TV series that have taken place within the MCU before, like the various series that can be found on Netflix as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., those series have generally only been tangentially related to the stories we get on the big screen. The new content that’s being promised will, it seems, be more directly connected to the stories that we see in theaters.
Kevin Feige calls the streaming service a “campfire,” borrowing an analogy from A Star is Born producer Bill Gerber in the THR roundtable discussion. It will be a place where all sorts of different stories can be told, and with everything that Disney has access to, from Marvel to Star Wars to Pixar and more, there are plenty of opportunities for new stories to be told. The way that streaming services have changed the way that people watch movies and TV shows has, in turn, changed the way that those movies and TV shows are created. It’s unlikely we ever would have seen something like a Winter Soldier/Falcon team-up series if it weren’t for the opportunities that streaming provides.
Disney’s streaming service is setting itself up to be a game changer when it debuts sometime next year. The studio has one of the most popular collections of media on the planet and a name that means quality to a lot of people. The fact that part of the MCU story will only be available there is sure to entice a lot of potential subscribers even if they weren’t otherwise planning to subscribe otherwise.
Of course, as Kevin Feige says, these new places to tell stories will not replace the theatrical experience. That’s still to be the focus for Marvel Studios and the company is still planning to continue the stranglehold it has on the box office. We’re only a few months away from the big Avengers 4 finale event that is sure to set box office records. Of course, after the movie has done that, it will likely appear on the Disney streaming service, giving it a place to live on where fans can experience it again and again.
All this will be in addition to whatever material from Disney’s extensive library will also be added. We could get nearly all of Disney’s animated features, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through to Zootopia or Moana. Streaming services often lead to binge-watching, and that would be a remarkable way to marathon the history of theatrical animation.
On top of all the Disney material, we’ll also have the content from Fox that will become the property of Disney once the merger is completed. With that expected to happen by the first of the year, and the streaming service not expected to launch until later in 2019, there will certainly be strong representation from Fox brands, at least the family-friendly ones, on the new service.
The only issue with the addition of another big streaming service is that it’s another big streaming service. Monthly costs have not been released and while indications are that the Disney service will be cheaper than Netflix, at least to start, it’s hard to tell just how many people will be willing to subscribe at the beginning. Will people be willing to spend another six or eight bucks every month on yet another service, especially if they already have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and whatever else? If not, could other services see noticeable drops in subscribers as people make the switch to Disney?