How Disney+ is being pitched to the studio’s biggest fans at D23 Expo
Months after revealing its ambitious streaming plans to Wall Street, Walt Disney Co. on Friday pitched the all-important Disney+ to a key audience: the company’s biggest fans.
The company made Disney+ a major centerpiece of its D23 Expo fan convention in Anaheim, which takes place through the weekend.
Disney+ is probably a relatively easy sell for attendees at an event where fans are known to arrive in life-like cosplay honoring characters from “Tron” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
But the company wasn’t taking any chances during its nearly two-hour presentation at the Anaheim Convention Center. The Burbank entertainment giant brought out stars and top creatives to massive applause Friday afternoon and announced a variety of new shows for the service, including a “Lizzie McGuire” series starring Hilary Duff as a 30-year-old Brooklynite and Marvel shows including “Ms. Marvel,” “Moon Knight” and “She-Hulk.”
The company also showcased splashy footage from “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” the live-action Star Wars show “The Mandalorian,” a reimagining of “Lady and the Tramp” (featuring real-life rescue pups) and the Anna Kendrick Christmas comedy “Noel.”
Disney turned up the showmanship, kicking off the presentation with a musical number by the cast of the new “High School Musical” show, complete with a drumline and dancers in cheerleader outfits and letterman jackets.
Disney+ launches Nov. 12 and will cost $6.99 a month. That’s a little more than 80 days away, noted Kevin Mayer, head of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international segment.
“But who’s counting?” Mayer joked.
“November 12 can’t come soon enough,” exclaimed master-of-ceremonies Yvette Nicole Brown, who stars in “Lady and the Tramp.”
Disney fans in attendance seemed to share their enthusiasm.
In the first year, Disney+ will host 100 recent theatrically released films, 400 older movies and about 7,500 television episodes. Movies on the service will include hits such as “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
The crowd exploded with applause when Mayer said the service will include the vault of Disney animated classics as well as the full Pixar film library.
The streaming service is part of Chief Executive Bob Iger’s strategy to transform Disney for a competitive digital entertainment market where it will face off with Netflix, HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s upcoming offering.
The company recently announced that it would bundle Disney+ with ESPN+ and an ad-supported version of Hulu for $12.99 a month. The service will also be available in Canada and the Netherlands at the same time as in the U.S. and a week later in Australia and New Zealand, the company said this week.
The company offered D23 attendees an annual discount of $23 if they commit to subscribing to Disney+ for three years. That means visitors who signed up will pay a total of $140.97 for three years of the service, a discount of about 33%.
On the convention floor, Disney set up kiosks where attendees could sign up with their credit card info. At least one key fan was sold on the idea: Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. “I just did it last night,” he said.
The conference marked the first D23 Expo since Disney acquired the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox, including the 20th Century Fox movie and TV studios, in March. Fox characters made their presence known at the event, with people in Homer and Bart Simpson suits taking photos with guests. Disney+ will feature 30 seasons of “The Simpsons.”
During the convention Disney also revealed details of Marvel’s Avengers Campus coming to Paris and Anaheim.
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