Disney+ announces avalanche of new Star Wars, Marvel and Disney TV shows, as subscriber tally tops 86m

Hayden Christensen returning as Darth Vader! Ahsoka and Rangers Mandalorian TV spin-offs! Samuel L. Jackson in Nick Fury Secret Invasion series! Swiss Family Robinson reimagined! An Alien TV series!

New TV show bombshells dropped hard and fast at the Walt Disney Company’s eagerly awaited Investor day briefing yesterday. It’s difficult to know what to be most excited about. 

Setting the scene was news that Disney+ now has more than 86.8 million global subscribers, and that number is sure to swell after the entertainment giant unveiled an impressive slate of projects which take full advantage of its high profile IP – Star Wars, Marvel, Disney and Pixar. Disney Plus says it’s planning to release more than 100 new titles per year!

Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, House of Mouse, and Bob Iger, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, led the virtual event.

He said the company’s total eyeball haul now tops 137 million, and includes 11.5 million ESPN+ subscribers, 38.8 million Hulu subscribers, and 86.8 million Disney+ subscribers. Disney is predicting its streaming services will hit 300-350 million total subscriptions by 2024.  Small wonder it’s investing so heavily.

Over the next few years, Disney+ plans to launch approximately 10 Star Wars series and 10 Marvel series, as well as 15 Disney live action, Disney Animation, and Pixar series, plus 15 Disney live action, Disney Animation, and Pixar features. Here are the highlights…

The company’s total eyeball haul now tops 137 million, and includes 11.5 million ESPN+ subscribers, 38.8 million Hulu subscribers, and 86.8 million Disney+ subscribers…

Disney unleashes the full force of its IP at Investor Day event

As it did with Mulan, the new Walt Disney Animation Studios’ release Raya and the Last Dragon will be available on Disney+ with Premier Access in most Disney+ markets, at the same time as it is released in cinemas, on March 5, 2021.  

Lucasfilm will expand the Star Wars galaxy with Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor with Hayden Christensen returning as Darth Vader, and two series set in the Mandalorian era from Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni: Rangers of the New Republic and Ahsoka, featuring the fan favorite character Ahsoka Tano.

Additional new Star Wars titles include Andor, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Star Wars: Visions, Lando, The Acolyte, and A Droid Story

The next feature film in the Star Wars franchise, releasing in December 2023, will be Rogue Squadron, which will be directed by Patty Jenkins. The next instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise directed by James Mangold, a Star Wars feature film by writer/director Taika Waititi and Children of Blood & Bone, based on Tomi Adeyemi’s New York Times bestselling novel, round out the feature-film slate.

For Disney+, the studio announced Hocus Pocus 2, reboots of Three Men and a Baby with Zac Efron and Cheaper by the Dozen with Kenya Barris and Gabrielle Union, and a new Sister Act film starring Whoopi Goldberg.

The studio also revealed several new series for Disney+ including Baymax, Zootopia+, Tiana and Moana, The Series, as well as Iwájú, which will be produced in collaboration with the Pan-African comic book entertainment company Kugali.

Among the titles announced was Pixar’s first-ever long-form animated series Win or Lose, which debuts on Disney+ late 2023. 

Among dozens of upcoming Marvel projects, three new series for Disney+ were revealed, including the Samuel L. Jackson-starrer Secret Invasion, Ironheart with Dominique Thorne as a genius inventor, and Armor Wars, starring Don Cheadle as James Rhodes aka War Machine.

These will join already announced WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and Loki; the animated series What If…?; Ms. Marvel; Hawkeye, with Hailee Steinfeld joining Jeremy Renner in the series; She-Hulk, starring Tatiana Maslany in the title role alongside co-stars Mark Ruffalo and Tim Roth; Moon Knight; Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special; and a series of original shorts, including I Am Groot.

Included in a host of new marvel feature film reveals were Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third feature in the Ant-Man franchise, and Fantastic Four, which introduce Marvel’s first family. 

National Geographic revealed its ambitious Disney+ slate including high profile titles Limitless With Chris Hemsworth, Welcome to Earth featuring Will Smith, and a fourth season of the Emmy-winning anthology series Genius, which will profile Martin Luther King, Jr.

The studio also announced the new documentary film Cousteau, which will debut in theatres before coming to Disney+ alongside new documentary series Secrets of the Whales, A Real Bug’s Life, and America The Beautiful.

Disney Television Studios announced two two projects inspired by Disney properties in development: Beauty and the Beast, starring Luke Evans and Josh Gad with new music composed by Alan Menken; and Swiss Family Robinson, which is a reimagining of the classic from Ron Moore and Jon M. Chu. The studio is also developing Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Disney Television Studios is currently in production on four live action series set to debut on Disney+ in 2021: The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, Big Shot, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and Turner & Hooch.

The Kardashian Jenners have been signed to create new global content under a multi-year deal, to stream exclusively on Hulu in the US. and internationally on Star, with an expected debut in late 2021. Also premiering next year are drama series Only Murders in the Building, The Dropout, and Dopesick.

Upcoming FX originals include The Old Man, American Horror Stories, Platform, Reservation Dogs, and Y: The Last Man.

The hit drama series, The Handmaid’s Tale, has been renewed for a fifth season ahead of its season four premiere and Nine Perfect Strangers, starring and executive produced by Nicole Kidman along with David E. Kelley, will debut next year.

FX is developing the first series adaptation of the science-fiction horror classic Alien and is in advanced talks for a two-season order of The Stones, a drama series about the The Rolling Stones. James Clavell’s epic saga, Shōgun, set within feudal Japan, is also to be adapted.

Finally, FX has ordered four additional seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, making it the longest running live-action sitcom in television history. 

Building on the successful launch of Disney+ Hotstar in India and Indonesia, Disney confirmed its international general entertainment content brand, Star will launch in Europe and several other international markets on February 23, 2021 as a fully integrated part of Disney+, with its own branded tile and a new collection of general entertainment series, movies, documentaries, for an additional subscription fee. The Star brand will be home to television and movies from FX, 20th Century Studios, 20th Television, as well as local programming. Its arrival will more than double the content catalogue available to Disney+ subscribers. 

As much of this content will be adult in nature, a new PIN lock will be introduced.

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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