Some notable films are absent from Disney+ that you may have been expecting to find.
Disney+ launched in the UK this week, and there’s no shortage of movies old and new on the service that many of us sat in isolation are starting to work our way through. Disney of course bought up the 20th Century Fox movie studio too to bolster the back catalogue of titles. But still: there are films that are missing on the Disney+ service that you may well expect to see there. We’ve been digging into why they’re not there…
The one absentee of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in the UK Disney+ line-up is The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton. Yet this is down to the muddled rights for the character. Universal acquired them, and pressed ahead with the 2003 movie Hulk, directed by Ang Lee.
As a consequence of that, though, Universal retained movie rights to the character, albeit not exclusively. As such, before Marvel became as big as it has become, it partnered with Universal on The Incredible Hulk, the sole film in the MCU catalogue to which Disney doesn’t have distribution rights.
Furthermore, Disney and Marvel can’t do a standalone Hulk movie, starring Mark Ruffalo, without Universal, and it’s not keen to partner with another studio for such a project (its Spider-Man deal with Sony was an exceptional case). As such, whilst Hulk can freely appear in MCU movies, there’s no standalone planned. And, for the purposes of this article, Incredible Hulk is not part of the Disney+ catalogue.
Again, straightforward rights problems here. Sony owns the rights to the two Spider-Man films made in conjunction with Marvel, not Disney. Sony got quite a deal here, paying for the films and taking the revenue, in exchange for Spider-Man being part of the MCU. But it does mean that Disney would have to pay Sony for Homecoming and Far From Home to be part of the Disney+ service. It seems there are no plans there.
Nearly all of the X-Men movies have landed on Disney+, with the exception of one: the Oscar-nominated Logan, arguably the most acclaimed of the lot. The reason for this is simple: Disney+ has an upper limit on family ratings. In the US, no productions rated higher than PG-13 are on the platform, and in the UK, it’s fair to assume that the level has been set at 12A. Given that Logan is a 15, and very 15 at that, it’ll never appear on Disney+, even though Disney has the rights, following its Fox takeover.
Curious omissions these, but from what we can ascertain, it’s simply a case of time. First Class and Apocalypse were added after launch in Australia for instance, so it’s all but certain they’re in the pipeline. The likelihood is that Disney will want a stream of new additions to the service, and thus they’ll take their place in the queue.
In the case of Dark Phoenix, that’s the most recent release, and again, it’s likely simply a matter of time. There’s no rights issue that’s blocking it appearing on the service.
Deadpool and Deadpool II
Yep, same reason. Disney+ would change its name to Netflix Rival before it’d consider putting the potty-mouthed Deadpool movies on the platform.
When the seriousness of the Coronavirus spread, and its impact on cinemas, became clear, Disney released a press announcement in the US declaring that it’d be bringing two of last winter’s hits, Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, directly to its service.
However, the home releases of both titles were due earlier in the US. Frozen II finally arrives on disc in the UK on March 30th, but in the US, it’s been available on physical media since February 25th. There are different agreements in place in the UK for the length of the theatrical window too, which is why it generally takes films a month later to get to disc in the UK compared to America. Whilst accommodations have been made for current circumstances, it wouldn’t be a good look for Disney to cut out its on demand release with retailers in the UK by sending Frozen II to the service straight away. Don’t expect it to take long to get there, too.
UPDATE: Thanks to eagle-eyed Film Stories reader Professor Yaffle for spotting this…
Frozen 2 is coming on July 17th pic.twitter.com/b0ej3R6WVQ
— Professor Yaffle 🇪🇺 (@ZacQuinn) March 26, 2020
In the case of The Rise Of Skywalker, the physical and on demand release in the US hadn’t actually happened when the announcement was made. Furthermore, the disc release of the latest Star Wars film may be landing at the end of March in America, but it’s not due in the UK for a good month or two yet. Again, Disney is unlikely to take long to bring the film to Disney+, but it has to go through its regular channels as well and doesn’t want to be seen cutting out on demand retailers, particularly now.
On the flipside…
It seems the UK has got Mary Poppins Returns and the live action take on The Jungle Book on the Disney+ service, neither of which are expected on the US version for a year. Swings and roundabouts, chums…
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