UK Disney fans could be forgiven for thinking it was Christmas morning as they woke up to the news that the entertainment studio had detailed a raft of some 35 new television series, including ten from Marvel, ten based in the Star Wars universe, new Pixar animations, as well as 15 new movies to be released on Disney Plus in the next few years.
It was possibly the spoonful of sugar needed to help the digestion of the concurrent update that over in the US, the Disney streaming service was to up its prices, while forecasting that the platform will attract between 230m and 260m subscribers by 2024. The surge will, no doubt, be fuelled by the latest scheduling of releases.
Amid the announcement, Lucasfilm confirmed that multiple new Star Wars shows are coming to Disney Plus, including two spin-offs of its The Mandalorian series with Star Wars: Rangers of the New Republic and Star Wars: Ahsoka, with Rosario Dawson – who having just appeared in The Mandalorian in the role of Ahsoka Tano – taking on the lead role.
The biggest news to emerge from the Star Wars universe, however, is that Darth Vader is returning. Hayden Christensen will be reprising his role, alongside Ewan McGregor for the long-awaited Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone series. Production on the series is set to start in March 2021, and will be set after the events of Revenge of The Sith, meaning that Christensen will be playing the role of Darth Vader, rather than that of Anakin Skywalker.
Disney also confirmed a standalone show based on Lando Calrissian, as well as Star wars Visions, a series of short films from Japanese anime creators. Meanwhile, The Acolyte will be a ‘mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era’, while A Droid Story ‘will introduce us to a new hero guided by R2D2 and C3PO’
On top of that, two new Star Wars films will be on the way, with Taika Waititi and Patti Jenkins attached to each.
Yet, despite the barrage of announcements to come from the studio, not forgetting the further 10 series from the Marvel franchise, the slate of Pixar films, and 15 movies to be released on Disney Plus, the firm still warns that the unit would lose money until 2024, underscoring, some have commented on the punishing economics of online entertainment.
The Financial Times reports that Disney plans to double its annual content investment to about $15bn by 2024, at which point its streaming business will turn a profit, the company predicted.