When Disney+ launched, it seemed like it could provide infinite possibilities for Disney-owned properties to expand beyond what could be seen on the big screen. Perhaps even for films whose box office performance didn’t do well enough for them to warrant an expensive big-budget sequel. With Rogue One‘s Cassian Andor getting a Disney+ series, there’s buzz about who could be next to get the Disney+ treatment. Unfortunately, that likely won’t be Alden Ehrenreich‘s young Han Solo, whose 2018 origin film Solo: A Star Wars Story is still left without a sequel.
When Solo hit theaters in 2018, it left audiences with some unanswered questions and an open-ended ending that teased the possibility of a sequel. And while there were talks about Ehrenreich reprising the role of Han Solo in more movies, chances of a Solo 2 are slim. Solo was considered a box office disappointment for Disney. But many fans are still eager to see more of Han and Chewie’s early adventures, with some even suggesting that the franchise be turned into a Disney+ project to Solo writer Jon Kasdan, who co-wrote the film with his father Lawrence Kasdan. Sadly, Kasdan said that a Solo sequel is unlikely to happen at Disney+.
“Don’t think anyone’s pursuing a Solo sequel at the moment,” Kasdan wrote on Twitter in response to a fan question about Solo 2. “I think a feature, at this point, would be a tough sell & the D+ Star Wars slate is really…pretty packed, all shows I’m lookin forward to. My work on Indy is long over but I’m excited there’s forward movement!”
Don't think anyone's pursuing a Solo sequel at the moment @KenobiJj I think a feature, at this point, would be a tough sell & the D+ Star Wars slate is really…pretty packed, all shows I'm lookin forward to. My work on Indy is long over but I'm excited there's forward movement!
— Jon Kasdan @JonKasdan March 30, 2020
Although Lucasfilm is set to take a break from Star Wars feature films for the next few years, Disney’s slate is indeed packed with Star Wars projects. The successful Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian returns for its second season this fall, while multiple animated projects continue to air. Upcoming live-action Disney+ series like the stalled Obi-Wan series and the Cassian Andor series are also in the works. With all that, Kasdan suggests that Disney doesn’t have time to give attention to a character that is still synonymous with Harrison Ford, despite Ehrenreich’s charming performance.
Disney+ may benefit from further delays with the studio's theatrical releases as more movies may be going directly to the streaming service in the future. This, according to former Disney CEO and current Executive Chairman Bob Iger. It was recently revealed that Artemis Fowl will debut on Disney+ sometime this year, skipping a theatrical release. As Iger explains, that may not be the only title to make the move from theatrical to streaming, but don't expect to see it happen with the studio's upcoming tentpole releases.
Given what's going on in the world right now, most movie theaters are shut down entirely and virtually all major releases through June have been delayed. Some have wondered if Disney might put movies like Black Widow or Mulan on Disney+ instead. While that won't be happening, Bob Iger isn't ruling out other movies making the shift. Here's what Iger had to say about it in a recent interview.
'There are some we've decided to put on Disney+. We already announced one, Artemis Fowl, that would have been released in theaters. Others we've simply delayed. In some cases we've moved things onto Disney+ faster than we would have. Frozen 2 was one of them, but Onward would be the biggest example. It was in theaters when this happened.'
'We moved to a pay-per-view period for a couple of weeks where people could buy it and own it. And then we ended up putting it on Disney+. In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we'll simply wait for slots. In some cases we've announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar.'
There is a lot to unpack here. Black Widow and several other delayed movies were recently given new release dates as Disney reshuffled its 2020/2021 calendar. Black Widow and other big-budget tentpoles stand to make far more money in theaters, even with a relatively uncertain future ahead, than they could possibly generate via streaming. So putting movies like them directly on Disney+ doesn't make that much business sense.
In the meantime, taking riskier projects such as Artemis Fowl and giving Disney+ subscribers something flashy and exclusive is helpful. But what other movies might fit the bill for streaming debuts? The New Mutants perhaps? Whatever the case, as Bob Iger points out, the studio is content to wait until things return to normal. Disney, more than any other studio in Hollywood, is capable of raking in big dollars at the box office. So this truly isn't that surprising.
Other studios, on the other hand, may see value in doing a VOD/Digital release. Universal kicked that door wide open a couple of weeks back by putting recent releases such as The Invisible Man and The Hunt online. Trolls: World Tour, which was destined for theaters, will arrive digitally this month. Disney has not yet set a premiere date for Artemis Fowl, but it's...