Earlier this year, Disney (DIS) pounced on the rights to a live-capture filming of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton for a reported $75 million, the largest single-film acquisition in Hollywood history. The plan was to release the film on Disney+ in October 2021. Now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, that plan is changing as Disney looks to capitalize on its streaming surge.
Disney, Miranda, Jeffrey Seller and Thomas Kail have announced that the 11-time-Tony Award-, Grammy Award, Olivier Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning stage musical will arrive on Disney+ July 3, 2020. Dropping the historical Hip Hopera that explores our founding fathers of Independence Day is a clever bit of Disney marketing. Producers for Hamilton, the film of the original Broadway production, include Miranda, Seller, and Kail, who also directs.
The film is a leap forward in the art of “live capture” which transports its audience into the world of the Broadway show in a uniquely intimate way. Combining the best elements of live theater, film, and streaming, the result is a cinematic stage performance that is a wholly new way to experience Hamilton.
“No other artistic work in the last decade has had the cultural impact of Hamilton—an inspiring and captivating tale told and performed in a powerfully creative way. In light of the extraordinary challenges facing our world, this story about leadership, tenacity, hope, love and the power of people to unite against the forces of adversity is both relevant and impactful,” said Bob Iger, Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney Company. “We are thrilled to bring this phenomenon to Disney+ on the eve of Independence Day, and we have the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda and the team behind Hamilton to thank for allowing us to do so more than a year before planned.”
“I’m so proud of how beautifully Tommy Kail has brought Hamilton to the screen. He’s given everyone who watches this film the best seat in the house,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda. “I’m so grateful to Disney and Disney+ for reimagining and moving up our release to July 4th weekend of this year, in light of the world turning upside down. I’m so grateful to all the fans who asked for this, and I’m so glad that we’re able to make it happen. I’m so proud of this show. I can’t wait for you to see it.”
This version of Hamilton was filmed at The Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016 over the two weeks before the play’s original cast departed.
Don’t be surprised if Disney turns Hamilton into a potential franchise of sorts with accompanying content down the road. With streaming viewership traffic and sign-ups spiking during the worldwide shelter-at-home, Disney is surely set to pull out all of the stops. You don’t spend $75 million for a one-and-done viewing party.