Disenchanted producer Barry Josephson defends the decision to give the film an exclusive streaming release on Disney+. Disenchanted is the long-awaited sequel to the 2007 hit romantic comedy Enchanted, which won critical acclaim for its satirical take on Disney’s animated films. Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and Idina Menzel will all return to reprise their roles in the sequel. The film will follow married couple Giselle (Adams) and Robert (Dempsey) as they decide to move from their Manhattan home to the suburbs, and a wish from an unfortunate Giselle unwittingly throws their world and Andalasia out of balance.
In an interview with Deadline, Josephson defends the decision to give Disenchanted a streaming release rather than a theatrical release. The decision is in line with other recent releases that have gone the streaming route, but not everyone has warmed to the idea yet. However, for Josephson, with Disney+ scoring one of the top streamers in the world, it made sense to make Disenchanted a streaming exclusive. Additionally, he assures fans that the streaming release doesn’t mean the film was made any differently than the one intended for theaters. Check out his statement below:
It was a question of situation. The film was developed as a box office movie. My development towards getting a green light happened right in the middle of Covid, and as our whole world was changing and streaming was becoming more important. When I got the call, ‘What do you think is a streaming movie?’, for me, I was excited. I also realized that there are all these streaming services out there, and for Disney to be the ultimate family streaming service, why not make it streaming-exclusive? Two and two made me four. They said to me: “You are going to make this film as if you had made it as a feature film for the box office”. It got me excited. This did not mean that we were reducing our idea. The service spends a considerable amount of money on its subscribers. It’s a period of adaptation that people have to get used to: there will be these things exclusively for streaming.
Disenchanted is the latest in a growing trend
Disenchanted is far from the only film to opt for an exclusive streaming release. It’s a phenomenon that’s been happening in streaming services, especially since the pandemic has made cinemas less viable. Even with theaters reopening, many streamers are looking to boost their platforms with original content. Movies like Hocus Pocus 2, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Secret Headquarters, and My Policeman have all received exclusive streaming releases or had limited theatrical release meant to boost their streaming debut. Although it’s becoming more and more common, that doesn’t mean it’s not controversial yet.
Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney+ over the streaming release of Black Widow has sparked some interesting conversations about whether a streaming release could hurt a movie’s performance. Meanwhile, cinemas have also expressed concern that streaming services are hurting their business. Either way, the streaming trend is probably here to stay. As Josephson alluded to, streaming is only growing in importance, and the platform provided by some of the more competitive services may seem even more alluring than the box office for some filmmakers.
While some of these films may have performed well at the box office, companies like Disney make a different financial calculation when sending them straight to digital. Admittedly, it’s harder to gauge an individual movie’s streaming performance against theatrical earnings, especially since companies tend to keep audience data close at hand. But, as Josephson points out, these releases often have the same budgets as theatrical films, so there should theoretically be no difference in quality. For consumers, the difference is really the viewing experience, and for family movies like Disenchanted, the streaming route looks increasingly attractive.