Disney Headlines for August 20th, 2023
This week in Disney Headlines: Snow White can’t catch a break, Disney+ hikes its prices, and Elemental rides its momentum onto digital.
TikTok vs. Snow White
Last month, the social media outrage machine yet again targeted Disney.
This time, some critics laid into Disney for its casting of the Seven Dwarfs in an upcoming film.
In 2024, Disney will release its latest live-action film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which will return the company to its roots.
As a Disney executive recently explained, the studio provides filmmakers with the freedom to explore new ideas with these live-action remakes.
So, nobody should feel beholden to Disney’s past as these content creators lay the path toward the company’s future. And some fans don’t like that.
Specifically, a few outspoken individuals laid into Disney for the casting of the Seven Dwarfs.
A “leaked image” from the set proved misleading, as it showed stand-ins rather than the actual cast.
That fact didn’t stop people from running wild with the story, though.
Now, something similar has happened, as a previous media interview for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has gone viral for the wrong reasons.
During this conversation, the film’s stars, Gal Gadot and Rachel Zegler, discussed their characters.
The 22-year-old actress describes how she didn’t love Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as a child. She found the Prince somewhat of a stalker.
Also, Zegler expressed fear about riding Snow White’s Scary Adventures at Magic Kingdom, which is a longstanding complaint some children have about the ride.
Snow White as a Feminist Icon
More significantly, the actress describes Snow White’s motivations in these terms:
“She’s not going to be saved by the prince and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love.
She’s dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be and the leader that her late father told her that she could be if she was fearless, fair, brave, and true.”
You can watch the entire interview here, and it’s…harmless:
I’ve started the video at the moment of her supposedly controversial remarks. You’ll notice that Gadot nods her head in agreement.
The sentiment involves how a 1937 movie’s values could seem dated to modern women.
That concept offended some of the viewers, as a TikTok anti-Zegler wave has seemingly appeared overnight.
The fact that they’re venting about comments made in an interview ten months ago is weirder to me than the story itself, but here we are.
What’s clear is that Disney will need to approach the marketing phase of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs quite carefully.
No matter how good the film proves to be, it’s gonna face the same odd media cycles that The Little Mermaid did.
Elemental Debuts on Digital
Have you watched Elemental yet?
Based on the box office numbers, the odds suggest you’re 3.5 times more likely to have watched Barbie instead.
As a Disney fan, you’ll want to change that, though. During the summer of 2023, Elemental has turned into the little movie that could.
After a sub-$30 million opening weekend, many box office analysts and Disney critics threw Elemental onto the scrap heap.
Nobody told Elemental that it was dead, though. Instead, a funny thing happened in the following weeks. People started watching the film.
Along the way, movie-goers realized Elemental belongs in the discussion for the top five movies of the pandemic/post-pandemic era.
The film’s quality explains why it’s become Pixar’s most popular release ever in South Korea.
Also, in an unlikely turn of events, Elemental increased its box office in Japan last week. It’s a global sensation and the Pixar film with the best legs since Toy Story!
Now, you can watch Elemental on streaming today, assuming you’re willing to pay $19.99 to own the film on Apple iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, or Vudu.
My pre-order triggers today, and I can’t wait to watch the film again because I’m actively obsessed with this song:
Based on The Little Mermaid’s release pattern, you can probably watch Elemental for free with your Disney+ subscription in about six weeks.
In the interim, IGN has released a new deleted (and unfinished) scene from Elemental. You can watch it in all its lo-fi splendor here:
While Disney has undeniably faced some unexpected hurdles with its 2020-2023 movies, the truth is that Elemental, Soul, Luca, and Encanto are all instant classics.
The Disney+ Password Crackdown
Speaking of Disney+, CEO Bob Iger recently announced some changes coming to the service.
For starters, at some point in fiscal 2024, which is only three months from now, Disney+ will crack down on password sharing.
Iger didn’t provide many details about this change, but Netflix recently did the same thing a few months ago.
That service tracked an increase in subscribers, indicating that more people bought new subscriptions rather than canceled in fury.
Netflix’s actions worked as a proof-of-concept for other streaming services like Disney, and now Disney+ will follow suit.
That’s not the only impending change, either.
The Disney+ and Hulu Price Increases
Both Disney+ and Hulu will raise prices on October 12th.
Starting on that date, the ad-free version of Disney+ will increase rates from $10.99 to $13.99 a month, a 27 percent price bump.
Similarly, Hulu’s ad-free tier will rise from $14.99 to $17.99 per month.
Meanwhile, a new ad-free Disney Bundle Duo with these two services will cost $19.99 per month.
Disney has taken these steps to encourage guests to accept advertising with streaming content.
I say this because the ad-supported tier of Disney+ will remain at $7.99 a month. Disney really wants to insert commercials into its programs.
When the company takes this approach, it earns subscription revenue AND advertising revenue. It’s like getting two paychecks for doing one job.
So, through password-sharing crackdowns and an emphasis on the Disney+/Hulu ad-supported tiers, Iger believes he can monetize Direct-To-Consumer.
For your part, you should consider buying an annual subscription at the current lower rate between now and October 11th.
Otherwise, you might want to pick a cellphone carrier based on whether they include the Disney Bundle as a free bonus.
I sincerely doubt Disney holds its new pricing levels indefinitely. Iger hinted that he’s got data reinforcing the belief that customers would pay more.
If true, that knowledge encourages additional price increases.
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Feature Photo Courtesy of Rachel Zegler/Everett Collection