Two years ago, Kevin Smith teased a mystery writing gig that would be the most “massive IP” the Clerks director had “ever been allowed to play with.” When Netflix announced that Smith was developing a Masters of the Universe animated series earlier this year, we all assumed that was the “massive” mystery gig that the writer-director was speaking of. But Smith recently revealed that two years ago, he had also been developing a Kingdom Keepers series for Disney+ that was ultimately scrapped.
Kingdom Keepers was a series of children’s novels written by Ridley Pearson which followed a group of teens who work as Disney theme park guides by day, and battle Disney villains who come to life in the parks by night. Published between 2005 and 2013, the popular New York Times best-selling series made a brief return in 2015 and is set to make another comeback in 2020. It would have been perfect timing for a Disney+ series adapting Pearson’s novels to make its debut, but alas, that was not meant to be. Smith revealed that this almost was the case, however.
After hinting of his involvement in a Kingdom Keepers series on his Fatman Beyond podcast, Smith revealed that he had been working on a Kingdom Keepers project for Disney+, which was planned to be one of the first shows launched on the streaming platform. However, “a new exec” brought on to oversee Disney+ scrapped the series.
“That was a blast to write 2 years ago,” Smith said in a tweet. “It was planned as one of the first shows to launch on what would become [Disney+]. Then a new exec was put in charge of the app and he killed KK. Said we used too much Disney IP in one project every character in the park comes to life.”
Smith added that the Kingdom Keepers project was a passion project for him, as a “kid who grew up watching ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ with his family every Sunday night.” “Felt like they overpaid me to write Disney fan fiction!” he said.
But Smith was still gracious about the experience, concluding that the unnamed executive who scrapped Kingdom Keepers was still the “guy who said ‘Let’s do Star Wars & Marvel Studios shows!'” Smith concluded that “as much as I would’ve liked to make my show, I’m much happier watching The Mandalorian and WandaVision.”
That was a blast to write 2 years ago. It was planned as one of the first shows to launch on what would become @disneyplus. Then a new exec was put in charge of the app and he killed KK. Said we used too much @Disney IP in one project every character in the park comes to life. https://t.co/8izGTsg10H
— KevinSmith @ThatKevinSmith April 5, 2020
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...