Hamilton comes to Disney Plus on July 3

Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway show is coming to the streaming service just in time for the July 4 celebrations.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
Expertise Culture, Video Games, Breaking News
Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Sean Keane
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

The Disney Plus version of the show will include the original Broadway cast.

Joan Marcus

Wildly popular musical Hamilton is coming to Disney Plus on July 3, the company said Tuesday. The movie was previously planned for an October 2021 theatrical release, but Disney opted to bring it straight to the streaming service 15 months sooner, given the coronavirus pandemic

The musical, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, tells the story of US founding father (and first Treasury Secretary) Alexander Hamilton. The Thomas Kail-directed movie is actually the stage show, shot in 2016 with the original Broadway cast. 

On Wednesday, Miranda tweeted about sending his announcement "while actually on TV" for the previous day's Good Morning America interview.

The movie will also be the only way to experience the Broadway show for a while -- performances in New York City are suspended until at least Sept. 6.

Read more: Best live TV streaming for cord-cutters: YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu and more

Disney's change underscores how disruptive the pandemic has been to Hollywood studios' meticulously planned release cycles. With theaters closed and coronavirus preventive measures keeping people stuck at home, studios have mostly decided to keep pushing back the theatrical release dates for mega-budget pictures. Their tentpole movies in a holding pattern, studios could be setting themselves up to release a glut of movies on top of each other, crimping ticket sales.

Facing the grim reality that the world isn't likely to return to normal anytime soon, studios are starting to send smaller-budget films straight to online sales and rentals

New Movies Coming in 2023 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

See all photos

Universal, for example, released Trolls World Tour, the sequel to the 2016 animated film, as an online rental the same day it premiered in a small number of cinemas in April. It generated as much money from digital sales in three weeks as the first Trolls film made during a five-month run in theaters. 

Read more: Best picture quality TVs for 2020

Hamilton will be the second Disney movie skipping theaters. Artemis Fowl, a sci-fi fantasy based on young-adult novel series, will go straight to streaming June 12, after it had been planned for theatrical release in May originally.

Watch this: Coronavirus could affect movies for years

But Disney, so far, is holding all its big-budget potential blockbusters for theatrical release. The first up is the live-action remake of Mulan, which is scheduled to hit theaters July 24. Black Widow -- the next Marvel Cinematic Universe movie -- is still slated for theaters Nov. 6. Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that the company is evaluating each movie on a case-by-case basis and that Disney may need to modify its plans if theaters remain closed -- or if theaters reopen too narrowly for a theatrical release to make enough money.

But "we very much believe in the value of the theatrical experience overall to launch blockbuster movies," he said.

It isn't clear if Hamilton will get a theatrical release after this, but it seems unlikely. Disney didn't respond to a request for comment.