With over 270 movies joining Disney+ in one go next month, a polite request: please let this be the moment where movies start landing more regularly on the service.

The announcement yesterday that Disney+ will be adding over 275 films to its streaming service was a very, very welcome one (you can see the full list here). It coincides with the launch of its Disney+ Star annex, an add-on to the service that’ll finally allow it to offer films with certificates tougher than a 12A. Star in turn will come with parental controls to stop the anklebiters watching fare such as Starship Troopers and Con Air, leaving the rest of us to access a whole host of films that – to the frustration of many – Disney owned but hadn’t been offering.

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It’s a big step in the right direction. I’ve had mixed views on Disney+ to this point. I think the interface is excellent, and the initial offering of films and shows was terrific. Still is. But once I’d had the service for a couple of months, I was barely dipping into it. On the TV side, understandably, Disney’s plans were significantly Covid-interrupted (only now is the first Marvel TV show made specifically for Disney+ running, for instance). What’s been frustrating though has been the achingly slow drip of movie additions over the past year..

At a time when Netflix and Amazon Prime regularly drop around 100 or so movies a month on their respective services, Disney+ has never to my knowledge had a month where it’s added more than eight since that initial launch. In January 2021, the UK service’s film addition’s were half that.

I’m not naïve. Streaming services thrive on multi-episode material, which is likely to keep viewers engaged for longer, and watching multiple things in one sitting. TV is where the big bucks are. I’m an old fashioned nerd though who’s in it for the films, and I think they deserve to be consistently given more priority than they’ve been getting. In January, the four new movie additions were Dr Dolittle 3, Hello Dolly, the brilliant The Book Of Life and The Sandlot.

That was it.

December? A little better, in fairness. Soul was the excellent headline act, but other than that it was Mulan (2020), Godmothered, Safety, Eragon, Epic, We Bought A Zoo (always had a soft spot for that one) and Walking With Dinosaurs being added. Eight films, in a month where other services were flooding us with movie options. Again, no shortage of television, but the feeling that things were light on the movie front.

I’ve no exact number for the total amount of movies in the Disney archive, but – following the acquisition of Fox and its assets – if it comes in at less than five figures I’d be genuinely shocked. I can but conclude that it isn’t that Disney can’t find movies in its catalogue to add to Disney+ in any great number (all of those films in its archive can’t be covered by pre-existing agreements), it’s that it doesn’t have much inclination to add them. Or at least it didn’t.

That’s why this week was such a breath of fresh air. Reading the list of films being added to Disney+ has instantly converted me from a soon-to-be-lapsed subscriber to where do I sign up again? It’s worth noting that the presentation of films on Disney+ tends to be excellent too. Many titles are available in 4K, and I always get a sense that genuine care has been taken in getting the films right (contrasting with that, try and watch City Slickers on Netflix, which last time I checked was still framed in 4:3).

 

There are notable absentees on the list that Disney has already teased: The Shape Of Water and the original Die Hard, for instance have been advertised but not appeared yet (the Die Hard sequels and that Russian-set fan film are all being added in February). The Alien and Predator sagas are notable by their absence, but I don’t expect that to be a long term thing. That said, it’s been a lot of fun watching the reaction to Disney’s announcement yesterday, and enjoying the fact that Disney+ is the last place some might expect to see certain titles.

But I hope this huge drop of films marks something of a sea change in Disney’s approach to those of us who are in it for the movies. Now that the restriction has been lifted on more grown up material, there’s precious little barrier stopping the bringing a far greater number of films to Disney+. I don’t expect a couple of hundred to drop again in any great frequency, and as a customer I get to be gleefully naïve about the work that’s been involved to coordinate so many movies being added in one go.

However, my wish going forward is that the new additions come more regularly. That we can perhaps get at least 15-20 films added a month, rather than a scraping around the Fox family features catalogue to toss half a dozen in our direction. I can’t say I’ve a huge problem with Dr Dolittle 3, primarily because I’ve never seen it. It just happens to stand out when it makes up over 15% of the new film additions in a given month.

I still think Disney+ is a strong deal. I’m paying the price of two rentals at Blockbuster Video in the 1990s (four, if I used the free rental coupon that came free with pizzas for a while) to get access to a whole host of films, really well presented. I can certainly see myself using the service a lot more this side of Easter, and those 270 or so fresh additions are set to fill my to-watch list for the immediate future.

But please let this be the start. Let this be the point where Disney really starts to open up its catalogue, where it becomes a must-visit destination for film films.

And hell yeah, Condorman in 4K is a good place to start. I said it. I know you’re thinking it.

If anyone with the requisite controls at Disney+ is reading: please keep this going. The announcement yesterday boasts, understandably, that it’s the biggest new drop in material since the service launched we’ve got coming on February 23rd. I understand that doing something like this on an annual basis – around renewal time – grabs the headlines.

If that’s the strategy, then who am I to argue. Just toss the rest of us a few more regular bones along the way…

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