Disney Plus stood out as a breakaway success among a wave of new streaming services, thanks in part to its large library of shows, movies and exclusive originals -- and, during the pandemic, Disney Plus streamed big-screen movies the same day they hit theaters. By August, Disney had warmed up to theatrical exclusives again, putting movies like Marvel's Eternals exclusively in theaters -- but tonight, Eternals is finally streaming on Disney Plus at no added cost for subscribers.
That's about 68 days afterlanded in cinemas, almost as long as theatrical exclusives lasted before the pandemic.
But, in a surprise last week, Disney announced it would go back to skipping theaters for Encanto and all hitting cinemas exclusively, Disney is shaking up the new normal of movie releases yet again., Pixar's latest feature film, which is going to be available only on Disney Plus in March. After a streak of movies like Eternals,
Disney Plus is also a destination for The Book of Boba Fett, the Star Wars series spun off from the service's biggest original so far, The Mandalorian. Book of Boba Fett is the latest original with new episodes dropping weekly now.
Here are the important details to know about Disney Plus.
What is ' release date and time on Disney Plus?
Eternals is going to land on Disney Plus early Wednesday morning, available to stream at no added cost for all subscribers starting at midnight PT (3 a.m. ET). Eternals will be part of the standard streaming catalog and won't require an extra fee to watch. Some people refer to this as the date Eternals will be streaming "free," but everything on Disney Plus requires a paid subscription.
Like Shang-Chi, Eternals' is arriving on Disney Plus much later in its release cycle than other Disney films over the last year. The Wednesday streaming release date for Eternals is about 68 days after its wide release in theaters.
While this streaming release timeline is quicker than the norm prepandemic, when it would usually take five to eight months for a theatrical movie to reach Disney Plus, Eternals still had a theatrical exclusive period nearly as long as some lasted before the pandemic shook everything up. Eternals was exclusively in theaters for about 68 days; the prepandemic norm for theatrical exclusives was about 75 to 90 days.
The difference now: Disney is essentially skipping Disney Plus ahead so it's first in line after theaters. Previously, formats like online rentals, Blu-ray and DVD would be the first home-viewing options after a film's theatrical run, and the Disney Plus release date would follow months later. Starting early Wednesday, Eternals will be added to Disney Plus at no added cost the same day the movie becomes available to rent online on all the major digital platforms like Amazon Video and Apple's TV app.
When can I stream Pixar's Turning Red?
Pixar's Turning Red will be available to stream on Disney Plus at no added cost for all subscribers on March 11.
In all countries where Disney Plus is operating, Turning Red is essentially skipping theaters. In all countries where Disney Plus hasn't launched, the company will release the film in cinemas, but it hasn't announced when yet.
Pixar's last two movies -- Soul in late 2020 and Luca in the middle of 2021 -- were released this way, too.
But Disney hasn't released a movie straight to Disney Plus since Jungle Cruise in July, and even then, Jungle Cruise was available to stream only by paying an extra $30 fee through its Premier Access model.
Can I stream Encanto on Disney Plus?
Yes, Encanto became available to stream on Disney Plus on Dec. 24, at no added cost to all subscribers. That was just one month after its theatrical release. As part of the standard streaming catalog, it doesn't require an extra fee to watch. Some people refer to Encanto as "free" to stream, but everything on Disney Plus requires a paid subscription.
That's a longer wait than for some other Disney movies that were released earlier in the pandemic. As mentioned above, Pixar's Soul and Luca, for example, went straight to Disney Plus.
But it's much faster than Disney's theatrical releases hit the streaming service before the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, it typically took five to eight months for a movie to reach Disney Plus after it hit cinemas. And it's faster than even Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which were in theaters for about 68 and 70 days, respectively. Encanto arrived on Disney Plus after 30 days.
When do new Boba Fett episodes hit Disney Plus? When's the finale?
The Book of Boba Fett releases new episodes early Wednesday mornings at midnight PT (3 a.m. ET). The finale will hit on Feb. 9, also early that morning.
The Book of Boba Fett stars Temeura Morrison as the clone bounty hunter of the title, and features Ming-Na Wen as his partner, Fennec Shand. Together, the pair work to seize the territories of Jabba the Hutt.
What's the next Marvel series on Disney Plus?
After Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision -- concluded in December, we don't know exactly when the next Marvel series like it will arrive in the parade of Marvel shows slated for Disney Plus.-- Disney Plus' latest live-action Marvel series in the vein of
Ms. Marvel character was first incarnated by Carol Danvers, who later took up the identity of Captain Marvel. Then the name was most recently passed on to Kamala Khan, a teen protege of Danvers who was Marvel's first Muslim character to headline her own comic book and will soon be the center of the Disney Plus series., which introduces a new character into the MCU, was originally planned to come out this year, but Disney has pushed back until, at the earliest, July 2022. In the comic books, the
In mid-November, Marvel also noted that two other series -- She-Hulk and Moon Knight -- would be released in 2022.
Shows that were described as "coming soon" (which really means you'll probably be waiting awhile for most of these) included Secret Invasion, Echo, Ironheart, Agatha: House of Harkness, Armor Wars, Marvel Zombies, Spider-Man: Freshman Year, X-Men '97, I Am Groot, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Loki season 2 and Marvel What If season 2.
Does Disney Plus have a free trial? Or other free offers?
Disney Plus no longer offers a standard free trial. It eliminated its one-week free trial program in June 2020, shortly before the premiere of Hamilton.
But other deals may unlock Disney Plus free (or at no added cost).
For example, 4G LTE or 5G unlimited account, as well as new customers of Verizon's Fios and 5G home internet services. Those who prepurchased a Disney Plus plan such as the now-expired three-year discounted subscription deal can stack their one free year on top of it, according to a .have a deal that gives a free year of Disney Plus starting on launch day to all the carrier's customers with a
Amazon Music Unlimited is also offering a deal for new subscribers to its streaming music service to unlock up to six months of Disney Plus free.
How much does Disney Plus cost?
In the US, the Disney Plus service costs $8 a month, or $80 a year. The standalone Disney Plus service costs comparable amounts in other countries in their local currencies.
Disney Plus' US price deeply undercuts the $14 monthly fee for Netflix's most popular plan in the US, which lets you stream to two different devices simultaneously in high definition. But Disney Plus allows all subscribers to stream to four devices and access 4K content at no extra cost -- features Netflix charges $18 a month to unlock its premium tier.
Way back in 2017, Disney's then-CEO Bob Iger noted that Disney Plus pricing at launch would reflect the "fact that it will have substantially less volume" than prime competitor Netflix. As the months and years pass, Disney Plus is accumulating a bigger catalog of exclusives and originals. As that happens, it's widely expected the company will continue pushing its price higher.
How much is the bundle with Hulu and ESPN Plus?
The company also offers a bundle that combines Disney Plus with (with ads) and , offering a discount if you subscribe to all three of those streaming services for $14 a month. Put another way, you can subscribe to all three of Disney's main streaming services for the same price as a standard Netflix subscription.
A higher tier of the bundle removes the ads from Hulu. The package with ad-free Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN Plus will cost $6 more than the basic bundle -- equivalent to the same cost increase you'd pay to step up from ad-supported Hulu to ad-free Hulu as stand-alone services. The three-way bundle with ad-free-Hulu bundle is $20 a month.
Hulu's prices for its standalone on-demand streaming tiers went up $1 on Oct. 8, but the price of the Disney Plus/Hulu/ESPN Plus bundle didn't change.
What other shows and movies are coming to Disney Plus?
Disney plans to floodand its other streaming services with shows and movies in the coming years, promising more than 100 new titles every year on Disney Plus and committing to spend $14 billion to $16 billion annually on streaming content across its services within the next four years. (That's about the same size as Netflix's budget now.) Disney Plus itself is going to get $8 billion to $9 billion of Disney's overall streaming budget.
That eye-popping budget meant Disney has announced a wave of new Star Wars originals, tons of Marvel projects and an exhausting lineup of new shows and movies. Disney laid out plans for as many as 20 new Marvel and Star Wars series. For details on them, CNET has deep dives into the announced and , as well as coverage that .
Disney Plus is also licensing some outside programming, like the popular kids animation franchise Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. Disney Plus struck a deal for the streaming rights to Miraculous' existing three seasons, as well as two more new ones.
As for big-screen movies, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed how Disney releases its new movies on Disney Plus -- and the new normal isn't exactly clear yet. At first, simply started streaming already-released movies months earlier than planned, such as , Frozen 2 and Pixar's Onward. Then Disney started ratcheting up the streaming releases of new movies, such as its film version of the award-winning musical Hamilton with most of the original Broadway cast. The Hamilton film arrived on Disney Plus more than a year before its originally planned theatrical date. Pixar's latest animated film, Soul, also went straight to Disney Plus on Christmas Day.
Then Disney introduced its Premier Access model, which sells streaming access to new, big-screen movies for an additional $30 on Disney Plus at the same time they're also available in theaters.
But now Disney is releasing its theatrical movies in cinemas exclusively for weeks, sometimes months. So far, Disney hasn't established a clear rhythm for its movies' streaming releases: Disney's animated feature Encanto is hitting Disney Plus after 30 days in theaters, while the latest two Marvel movies got more than two months in theaters before moving on to streaming.
What shows and movies can I stream already?
Disney Plus is designed to be the exclusive home to stream theatrical films, shows and shorts from Star Wars, , Pixar, Disney's own studio and National Geographic. It also has exclusive series and films, some of which are based on those blockbuster franchises, and others that are original.
With the elimination of Disney Plus' free trial last year, potential subscribers can't sign up to check out the catalog without having to pay first. But an easy way to see what's available on Disney Plus without forking over any money is using a third-party catalog search service like Reelgood.
Disney Plus also integrates programming from Fox. All 30 seasons of The Simpsons are on Disney Plus, it's begun adding X-Men franchise films, and titles like The Sound of Music, The Princess Bride and Malcolm in the Middle live there too. (Disney has also said it'll mine the Fox catalog for reboots too, "reimagining" past Fox franchises "for a new generation" -- a reboot of Home Alone is in the works, for example.)
Generally, Disney Plus houses the entire film libraries of Pixar, Star Wars and its Signature Series and Disney Vault lines of classic hand-drawn animated movies. It has all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies available to stream, with the exception of ones that were made by Universal or Sony. (So, that's why you won't find the Tom Holland Spider-Man films on Disney Plus, even though you can stream Holland portraying Spider-Man in Disney-made MCU movies like Avengers: Endgame.)
Because of previous licensing deals, it'll be a long time before Disney Plus is an exhaustive library of all Disney movies. CNET has a comprehensive list of the major. But starting with 2019's releases, all of Disney's new theatrical films stream exclusively on Disney Plus.
Then there's the big slate of original, exclusive shows and movies for the service.
Its first major original was Star Wars spinoff, a big-budget series starring Pedro Pascal that takes place five years after the events in The Return of the Jedi and focuses on a bounty-hunting gunfighter. It's the service's marquee original series and home to viral sensation , who became a pop culture phenom. Disney is investing heavily in The Mandalorian. The show's budget reportedly approached $15 million per episode in the first season. By comparison, Game of Thrones didn't hit that kind of spending until its final season.
But Disney Plus originals run the gamut. The Mandalorian is a textbook example of a Disney Plus original that feeds off the company's existing franchises. But, for example, a Taylor Swift film that went behind the scenes of the recording of her Folklore album is one of the Disney Plus originals without any existing ties to Disney as a company. Disney has many shows, movies and specials like this.
Disney Plus has original documentaries, reality shows, competition series, behind-the-scenes features, nature and adventure titles, animated programming -- the list goes on. It's a place for Disney to show off short films from within the company, like via its Launchpad incubator program designed to elevate opportunities for filmmakers from underrepresented groups.
Disney Plus is even starting to stream two-dimensional versions ofshorts.
What devices support Disney Plus?
Disney has wide device support, streaming to phones, tablets, computers, connected TVs and streaming media boxes. The company has global distribution agreements in place with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Roku, Sony, Amazon, Samsung and LG. That encompasses the makers of:
- Roku's boxes, sticks and TVs.
- Apple TV, iPhone and iPad.
- Phones and TVs running on Android operating systems, as well as Chromecast streamers.
- Xbox One.
- PlayStation 4.
- Samsung smart TVs.
- LG smart TVs.
- Comcast X1 set-top boxes and Flex platforms.
What product features does the service include?
Disney Plus can stream 4K Ultra HD content in Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Dolby Atmos immersive audio. You can see a title's available formats in any of the Disney Plus apps by clicking to that show or movie's main page and then clicking on the "details" tab. The app for streaming boxes, like Roku and Apple TV, is also designed to briefly flash a symbol telling you the format that you're watching; it appears in the upper right corner of the screen for a few seconds when a video begins to play.
Every Disney Plus account can stream to four devices simultaneously and can create seven user profiles for different members of the household. Each account can pick an avatar of a Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars character, with more than 200 avatars available.
Disney Plus also offers unlimited mobile downloads for offline viewing. Subscribers can download to up to 10 mobile or tablet devices, with no constraints on the number of times a title can be downloaded. The number of titles stored at one time on a device depends on how much storage space is available on the device.
The service is supposed to support English, Spanish, French and Dutch at launch, including user interface as well as audio support and subtitles for library content, with additional languages available for Disney Plus originals.
The app also supports closed captioning, descriptive audio and navigation assistance to help subscribers with disabilities. (In July, the American Council of the Blind gave Disney Plus an achievement award for its descriptive audio, specialized tracks that describe the settings and the action taking place alongside a program's dialogue.)
Disney Plus offers parental controls in the form of kids profiles. You can designate any profile to be in a kids mode, which has a simplified interface designed for younger viewers. These kids profiles limit the library to programming that's rated TV-7FV and G in the US, or the equivalent ratings in other geographic markets.
And Disney has a group-watching feature, which lets you synchronize your stream of any title on Disney Plus with other accounts through the app, so you can watch a program at the same time as friends or family even if you're apart.
I was watching Disney Plus free through Verizon. What happens when that expires? How do I cancel?
For customers who signed up for Disney Plus through a Verizon promotion to unlock a free year (or another duration of time free), those subscriptions will automatically convert to the $7 monthly plan once the free period has expired.
If you keep the subscription, it will automatically start charging the $7-a-month rate through your Verizon bill. If you purchased an annual or multiyear subscription prior to redeeming the Verizon offer in 2019, then you go back to the original plan you had.
If you want to keep the subscription but are open to changing your wireless service, you could also upgrade your service to one of Verizon's so-called Play More or Get More Unlimited plans, which include Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus.
If you want to cancel, you should log into the My Verizon customer support portal and choose "Manage Disney Plus," where you should be able to cancel your service.
What about the Hulu bundle? How does Disney Plus fit in with Disney's other streaming services?
Disney Plus is a competitor tosuch as Netflix, HBO Now and . It's a paid subscription without any advertising, and it gives customers access to a vast library of Disney's and Fox's legacy content as well as new, exclusive TV shows, movies, documentaries and shorts.
Disney's other US streaming services -- Hulu and sports-focused ESPN Plus -- run on the same tech platform. Disney plans for all three to be individual subscriptions, but it's offering the triple-service to get discounts on all three.
Disney Plus includes all of Disney's family-friendly content and much of its mass-audience fare -- basically, anything made for audiences up to a PG-13 rating. It has content from Disney proper, Marvel, Lucasfilm (so, Star Wars), Pixar and National Geographic. And outside those traditional categories it also offers all 30 seasons of The Simpsons, a feather in its cap from the Fox takeover.
Hulu, on the other hand, is where Disney streams more-adult-oriented material. For example, two series originally planned for Disney Plus -- High Fidelity and Love, Victor -- were moved over to Hulu instead because of their more mature themes. Hulu is also the official streaming home for FX networks. (FX became part of Disney after Disney bought Fox for $71.3 billion.)
For now Hulu will continue to stream content from three of the broadcast networks, as well as its own original series.
And Disney now has full control over Hulu's direction. Hulu was jointly owned by four parent companies for years, but in 2019 Disney bought all the shares of Hulu it didn't already own. That gave Disney the flexibility to offer its bundle discount.