Hamilton has handed Hollywood a new playbook for blockbuster releases: will they listen? - Dexerto
TV + Movies

How Hamilton handed Hollywood its new playbook for blockbuster releases

Published: 5/Nov/2020 0:39 Updated: 5/Nov/2020 1:16

by Isaac McIntyre

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Hamilton was always going to be a smash-hit when it was released, especially with the original Broadway cast involved, but the cult musical’s Disney+ debut has done far more than just boost subscriptions ⁠— it’s proven on-demand streaming premieres can be the way forward for Hollywood.

In 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical ‘Hamilton’ debuted Off-Broadway. There’d been a smattering of interest ⁠— his last show ‘In the Heights’ had enjoyed nearly a decade of success on Broadway ⁠— but no one could have predicted the Hamilton explosion.

The shows, first on Off-Broadway before shifting to the Richard Rodgers Theatre, were sold out every night. Hamilton swept the Tonys in 2016, netting 11 wins.

Then, in July 2020, a “live” recording of Hamilton was released on Disney Plus. It broke Disney Plus records and fired the mouse’s streaming service straight into the battle against Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney’s other on-demand rivals.

Hamilton’s success did more than just sell Disney+ subscriptions though. 

It was originally plotted for a 2021 cinema release. Instead, Disney took its shot on a mid-year VOD release, and Hamilton shattered expectations, again, with one of the biggest streaming debuts ever.

Hamilton has shown Hollywood the way forward in an age of cinema closures and ever-increasing online demand; it’s turning the film world upside down.

Lin-Manuel Miranda dances as Hamilton on-stage in Broadway.
Disney Plus
Hamilton has handed Hollywood a blueprint for streaming VOD premieres.

There’s raw numbers to back this up too. On-demand movies releasing in 2020 had a bit of a rough ride ⁠— the Mulan remake was a notable Disney flop ⁠— but Hamilton, as well as a raft of rival releases, have shown SVOD debuts can work very well.

According to Variety, who released the top 30 on-demand releases in 2020 so far, Hamilton leads by a big margin. Newly-released Borat 2: Subsequent Moviefilm also clocked into the top five, alongside My Spy, Extraction, and Phineas & Ferb.

Here’s the top 10 releases:

  1. Hamilton: The Movie (Disney Plus)
  2. Borat 2: Subsequent Moviefilm (Prime Video)
  3. My Spy (Prime Video)
  4. Extraction (Netflix)
  5. Phineas & Ferb the Movie (Disney Plus)
  6. Mulan (Disney Plus)
  7. The Old Guard (Netflix)
  8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
  9. Roald Dahl’s The Witches (HBO Max)
  10. The Lovebirds (Netflix)
Leslie Odom, Jr. performs in Hamilton.
Disney Plus
Hamilton dominated streaming records across 2020, despite being released in June.

Hamilton, which topped the list, led to 752,451 Disney Plus app downloads in its opening three days on the platform. That translates to around $5.25 million made in new subscriptions alone.

It’s far cry from box office openings of the past ⁠— it wouldn’t have come close to the top 200, which is bottomed by early MCU entry The Incredible Hulk ($55.4m), but put simply; cinemas are closed, and they’re not opening any time soon.

Tenet, a huge Christopher Nolan blockbuster released as US theatres were trying to reopen, banked just $20m. Other tentpole releases, like No Time to Die, Wonder Woman 2, and Marvel’s Black Widow, haven’t even made it to cinemas yet.

Profits will be down if studios lean into SVOD premieres, yes. But Hamilton has proven it can work in the new age of movies & films. Disney Plus boasted 54.5m subscribers before Hamilton dropped. That’s $380m every single month.

Jonathan Groff sings as King George in Hamilton.
Disney Plus
Streaming services like Disney and Netflix may become the Hollywood kings soon enough.

The game has changed; tentpole releases like Hamilton, and future blockbusters, can be used to keep subscribers on streaming deals. $4.6 billion in Disney Plus fees in 12 months doesn’t sound too bad, all things considered.

This may well be a long lesson though. Studios are sticking to their cinema guns, for now, but if there’s more big flops, we may see Hollywood finally turn to streaming. When they do, Hamilton’s blueprint for success will be ready.

TV + Movies

The Walking Dead bringing back Beth and T-Dog for special episode

Published: 25/Nov/2020 14:30

by Daniel Megarry

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The Walking Dead is coming back for its first-ever Holiday Special, and it will feature some very familiar faces for longtime fans of the show.

With Season 10 returning for six bonus episodes in February 2021, fans are clamoring for more The Walking Dead content. A brand new holiday special might be enough to give you that fix, as it will bring together some of the biggest stars in the show’s history.

The hour-long episode will be hosted by Chris Hardwick and will debut Sunday, December 13. It will feature cast members past and present, as well as holiday-themed segments all filmed through the wonders of video chat.

Carol in The Walking Dead
AMC
Melissa McBride will appear in The Walking Dead Holiday Special

Who’s going to be in the Holiday Special?

Some of the biggest names in The Walking Dead’s history are joining the special episode. Guests confirmed (via Broadway World) include Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Josh McDermitt, Khary Payton, Eleanor Matsuura, Cailey Fleming, Cassady McClincy, Lauren Ridloff, Cooper Andrews, and more.

With the show’s chief content officer Scott M. Gimple and showrunner Angela Kang involved, there’s every chance we’ll get some new information or teasers for the future of the franchise too.

Interestingly, two fan-favorite stars are also joining the special episode: IronE Singleton, who played Theodore ‘T-Dog’ Douglas, and Emily Kinney, who played Beth Greene.

Both characters died in seasons 3 and 5 respectively, so it’s been a long time since viewers have seen them. It will certainly be interesting to see what they have to say, and whether they’ve been keeping up with the show since they left.

How to watch The Walking Dead Holiday Special

Maggie in The Walking Dead
AMC
Lauren Cohan will appear in The Walking Dead Holiday Special

The Walking Dead Holiday Special will stream exclusively on streaming service AMC+ on Sunday, December 13. Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick will lead the show, with a number of cast members joining in the fun.

As for the main The Walking Dead series, that will return on February 28, 2021, and it will come with a very special episode focusing on Negan’s backstory.

While you wait for that, we’ve rounded up 6 things you might have missed in the first-look trailer for The Walking Dead Season 10’s return, including a glimpse of Hershel Jr. as a child and Negan’s wife Lucille, played by Hilarie Burton.