And the coronavirus pandemic has triggered major changes in Disney Plus’ role in how the company releases new movies. Some of Disney’s theatrical films have switched to being streaming-only Disney Plus originals, like Hamilton and Pixar’s Soul. But the biggest change is Premier Access, its new model for charging an extra fee to stream big, new movies on Disney Plus the same day as they hit theaters. Disney first tested this for its live-action remake of
Disney’s latest animated feature film, Raya and the Last Dragon, was first released on Disney Plus in early March as part of what it calls its Premier Access model. The option to purchase Raya early on Disney Plus ended May 4; people who’ve already paid for it will continue to have access, but no new purchases can unlock it now.
With Premier Access, films cost an additional to unlock in addition to the price you pay for a Disney Plus subscription. You can purchase access to the film on disneyplus.com and on the service’s app for Apple (including iPhones), Google (including Android phones), Amazon, Roku and other platforms. The service will automatically prompt you to pay with your payment method already on file and request you enter details like a credit card CVV number.
Since 2016, Netflix had been the first place
But with Shang-Chi returning to the pre-pandemic practice of giving new movies an exclusive window in theaters only, Disney seems prepared to put day-and-date release behind it later this year.
In the US, the Disney Plus service costs a month, or a year. The standalone Disney Plus service costs comparable amounts in other countries in their local currencies. Disney’s other US streaming services — Hulu and sports-focused ESPN Plus — run on the same tech platform. Disney plans for all three to be individual subscriptions, but it’s offering the triple-service to get discounts on all three.
But Disney hasn’t yet confirmed the date that Black Widow will become part of Disney’s regular catalog, available to stream at no extra cost. In the past, both Mulan and Raya joined the standard Disney Plus library three months after their debuts on Premier Access, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Black Widow will follow suit.
What is Disney Plus?
Then there’s the big slate of original, exclusive shows and movies for the service.
For customers who signed up for Disney Plus through a Verizon promotion to unlock a free year (or another duration of time free), those subscriptions will automatically convert to the monthly plan once the free period has expired.
Disney Plus can stream 4K Ultra HD content in Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Dolby Atmos immersive audio. You can see a title’s available formats in any of the Disney Plus apps by clicking to that show or movie’s main page and then clicking on the “details” tab. The app for streaming boxes, like Roku and Apple TV, is also designed to briefly flash a symbol telling you the format that you’re watching; it appears in the upper right corner of the screen for a few seconds when a video begins to play.
How much does Disney Plus cost?
has been the breakout success among a wave of new streaming services — it has a deep library of shows and movies, buzzy originals and — sometimes — big-screen movies to watch the same day they first hit theaters.
In January, the company introduced a higher tier of that bundle, one that removes the ads from Hulu. The package with ad-free Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus will cost more than the basic bundle — equivalent to the same cost increase you’d pay to step up from ad-supported Hulu to ad-free Hulu as stand-alone services. The ad-free-Hulu bundle is a month.
Disney Plus has launched in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, India (branded as Disney Plus Hotstar), Indonesia and Japan. It has also launched across Latin America and the Caribbean.
Does Disney Plus have a free trial? Or other free offers?
Disney Plus is a competitor to
That eye-popping budget meant Disney has announced a wave of new Star Wars originals, tons of Marvel projects and an exhausting lineup of new shows and movies. Disney laid out plans for as many as 20 new Marvel and Star Wars series. For details on them, CNET has deep dives into the announced and , as well as coverage that .
Disney mostly disappeared from Netflix over the course of 2020 (but some content may be coming back).
How much is the bundle with Hulu and ESPN Plus?
Watch this: David Katzmaier’s tips for upgrading your home entertainment…
But as it plotted its own competitor. Starting with Disney’s 2019 slate of movies, all those films were destined for Disney Plus. That means , the first movie Disney released theatrically in 2019, is the first movie on Disney Plus instead of Netflix. It also means that was the final Disney theatrical release on Netflix.
How can I watch Loki when it premieres in June?
But licensing is complicated, and one report indicates Disney will return those movies to Netflix — and remove them from Disney Plus — temporarily starting in 2026. It affects movies released between January 2016 and December 2018, which includes Marvel titles like Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War; Star Wars hits like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Last Jedi; and Pixar staples like Finding Dory, Coco and The Incredibles 2. It also touches family favorites like Moana and the live-action Beauty and the Beast.
Disney Plus is also licensing some outside programming, like the popular kids animation franchise Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. Disney Plus struck a deal for the streaming rights to Miraculous’ existing three seasons, as well as two more seasons that are forthcoming. Disney Plus is already streaming the brand’s first TV movie, Miraculous World: New York – United HeroeZ; the second TV movie, Miraculous World: Shanghai-The Legend of Lady Dragon is supposed to arrive later this year.
How can I watch Raya and the Last Dragon? When does Raya come out ‘free’ on Disney Plus?
If you keep the subscription, it will automatically start charging the -a-month rate through your Verizon bill. If you purchased an annual or multiyear subscription prior to redeeming the Verizon offer in 2019, then you go back to the original plan you had.
And Disney has a group-watching feature, which lets you synchronize your stream of any title on Disney Plus with other accounts through the app, so you can watch a program at the same time as friends or family even if you’re apart.
How will I be able to watch Black Widow?
Generally, Disney Plus houses the entire film libraries of Pixar, Star Wars and its Signature Series and Disney Vault lines of classic hand-drawn animated movies. It has all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies available to stream, with the exception of ones that were made by Universal or Sony. (So, that’s why you won’t find the Tom Holland Spider-Man films on Disney Plus, even though you can stream Holland portraying Spider-Man in Disney-made MCU movies like Avengers: Endgame.)
If you want to cancel, you should log into the My Verizon customer support portal and choose “Manage Disney Plus,” where you should be able to cancel your service.
Disney Plus also offers unlimited mobile downloads for offline viewing. Subscribers can download to up to 10 mobile or tablet devices, with no constraints on the number of times a title can be downloaded. The number of titles stored at one time on a device depends on how much storage space is available on the device.
But for some of its forthcoming movies, Disney is simply switching films originally planned for theaters to be Disney Plus originals instead, skipping theaters entirely. This strategy mostly applies to midbudget movies, including Pinocchio, a live-action remake starring Tom Hanks; its Peter Pan reboot; Disenchanted, a sequel to Enchanted that’ll have Amy Adams reprise her princess role; and Sister Act 3, reviving the comedy franchise about nuns.
Will Disney keep releasing its new movies in theaters and on Disney Plus simultaneously?
But as cinema restrictions ease and more people feel safe crowding into movie theaters, Disney is going to reintroduce theatrical-only windows starting in August. Free Guy, a sci-fi comedy from Disney’s 20th Century Fox, be released in theaters for only 45 days starting Aug. 13. Then Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be released Sept. 2 in theaters for only 45 days as well. It’s likely that other big-budget movies like Eternals will either follow suit — or have an even longer period in cinemas only.
If you want to keep the subscription but are open to changing your wireless service, you could also upgrade your service to one of Verizon’s so-called Play More or Get More Unlimited plans, which include Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus.
Disney Plus is designed to be the exclusive home to stream theatrical films, shows and shorts from Star Wars, , Pixar, Disney’s own studio and National Geographic. It also has exclusive series and films, some of which are based on those blockbuster franchises, and others that are original.
But the era of streaming brand new theatrical movies on Disney Plus seems to be near its end. On Sept. 2, for 45 days, with no certainty that Disney Plus will get it on day 46. That’ll follow ‘ biggest film release so far, its megabudget Marvel movie same day it hits theaters July 9, for an extra fee. Called Premier Access, this streaming-release model requires a payment on top of the regular price of a subscription.
What’s coming to Disney Plus in May 2021?
Typically, Disney original series episodes are released weekly early Friday mornings at midnight PT/3 a.m. ET. However, Loki is breaking that precedent; it’ll land on Disney Plus early each Wednesday, also at midnight PT/3 a.m. ET.
- , Disney’s latest animated Star Wars show, which premiered May 4 and will release new episodes weekly on Fridays.
- The second season premiere of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series on May 14, a teen sleeper hit.
- Cruella, the live-action reimagining of 101 Dalmatians, which will become available for an extra $30 fee via Premier Access on May 28.
What other shows and movies are coming to Disney Plus?
For now Hulu will continue to stream content from three of the broadcast networks, as well as its own original series.
Netflix’s Marvel Defenders shows are complicated too. Netflix has put out five original series based on Defenders characters in partnership with Disney. In 2018, Netflix canceled three of them: Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Then in 2019, : The Punisher and Jessica Jones. A top executive (who’s since left Disney to lead TikTok) said Disney Plus could possibly revive the canceled shows. But the terms of their original deal could restrict Disney Plus from , according to a report.
During the pandemic, Disney Plus introduced its Premier Access model, which sells streaming access to new, big-screen movies for an additional on Disney Plus at the same time they’re also available in theaters. So far, Disney has released two movies this way, the live-action remake of Mulan and animated fantasy Raya and the Last Dragon. Cruella is next up in late May, then Black Widow on July 9, followed by Jungle Cruise on July 30.
Some of the are:
One consideration: Disney Plus won’t lose these titles until six years after the service launches. At that point, Disney Plus will have built a large permanent library of original content, and it’ll continue to funnel all its newest releases to Disney Plus and nowhere else. Presumably, that’ll take some of the sting out of losing these films for a limited time.
What shows and movies can I stream already?
Disney Plus no longer offers a standard free trial. It eliminated its one-week free trial program in June 2020, shortly before the premiere of Hamilton.
Disney Plus is the Hollywood giant’s hub for streaming almost everything Disney produces, plus select extras it licenses too. Generally, you can expect Disney Plus to have a wide selection of shows and movies from Disney’s franchises like , Pixar, National Geographic and the family-friendly movies and animation from Disney’s eponymous studios.
And Disney now has full control over Hulu’s direction. Hulu was jointly owned by four parent companies for years, but in 2019 Disney bought all the shares of Hulu it didn’t already own. That gave Disney the flexibility to offer its bundle discount.
The Marvel original series, like almost everything on Disney Plus, are part of Disney’s standard catalog, so anybody who’s a Disney Plus subscriber can watch them. You can sign up for Disney Plus directly at disneyplus.com, or you can do it through the Disney Plus app on a variety of devices, like Android phones, Apple’s iPhone, Roku streaming devices and others.
Every Disney Plus account can stream to four devices simultaneously and can create seven user profiles for different members of the household. Each account can pick an avatar of a Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars character, with more than 200 avatars available.
As for big-screen movies, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed how Disney releases its new movies on Disney Plus — and the new normal isn’t exactly clear yet. At first, simply started streaming already-released movies months earlier than planned, such as , Frozen 2 and Pixar’s Onward. Then Disney started ratcheting up the streaming releases of new movies, such as its film version of the award-winning musical Hamilton with most of the original Broadway cast. The Hamilton film arrived on Disney Plus more than a year before its originally planned theatrical date. Pixar’s latest animated film, Soul, also went straight to Disney Plus on Christmas Day.
While Disney has specified theatrical exclusives for some films, the company hasn’t clarified how its streaming plan will play out for movies like Shang-Chi and other megabudget movies like Eternals set to come out later this year. Typically, before the pandemic, new Disney movies would make their way to about five to eight months after they premiered in theaters. But it’s unclear whether movies like Shang-Chi and Eternals will be available on Disney Plus right after the theatrical window ends or if it will take longer for them to arrive.
Way back in 2017, Disney’s then-CEO, Bob Iger, noted that Disney Plus pricing at launch would reflect the “fact that it will have substantially less volume” than prime competitor Netflix. As the months and years pass, Disney Plus is accumulating a bigger catalog of exclusives and originals. As that happens, it’s widely expected the company will continue pushing its price higher.
But other deals may unlock Disney Plus free (or at no added cost).