“After the pandemic hit, and everything shut down, I sent an email to Tommy and Lin, and I said, ‘The world needs this now more than ever,’” said Iger, who had just become Disney’s executive chairman. “Would you consider not taking it to theaters, and bringing it right to Disney Plus?”
The response was immediate: “No.”
“I thought we should stay the course, but I confess that was early in the epidemic, when we thought we might go back to work in the summer,” said Seller, still reeling from having to shut down all six productions of “Hamilton.” “As the profundity of this pandemic set in, and I realized we’re not coming back this year, I thought we should reconsider.”
On May 12, the studio and the musical producers announced that the film would stream on Disney Plus, starting the weekend of Independence Day, which commemorates part of the history depicted in the show.
“I’m getting messages every day from folks who had tickets to ‘Hamilton’ and can’t go because of the pandemic, so moving up the release so everyone could experience it this summer felt like the right move,” Miranda said.
Disney has no current plans to show it on the big screen, but the “Hamilton” team remains optimistic. “Absolutely,” Kail said. “I hope at some point, when people go back to movie theaters, there’s an opportunity for people to experience this in a group, sitting in the dark.”
The move to streaming has implications for Disney and “Hamilton.”
“It is a very different financial proposition than if we had put it in movie theaters,” Iger said. He declined to share a specific estimate for the movie’s box office potential, but said, “We felt it would get extremely well reviewed, and that people would love it, but it was also unclear how it would do globally, so our estimates were relatively conservative outside the U.S. and bullish inside the U.S.”