business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Big news for theater geeks this morning - "Hamilton," the mega-hit Broadway musical that swept the 2016 Tony Awards and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, is coming to streaming video via Disney+ on July 3.

Variety reports this morning that the home video release is more than one year ahead of the originally planned release to the nation's theaters:  "The rap-infused look at Alexander Hamilton’s life and formative role in American history … had originally been slated for a theatrical release on October 15, 2021."

Three live performances of "Hamilton," with the original Broadway cast, were filmed for the movie.

Writer-star Lin-Manuel Miranda said in a statement,  “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.”

The accelerated release solves a continuing problem for Disney+,  a subscription streaming service, by providing fresh and highly visible content.  Disney+ has been a big success - it has signed up more than 54 million subscribers since launching in November - but the pandemic also has put a stranglehold on new content by shutting down productions.  This gives it an almost guaranteed high-profile win.

Plus, with Broadway shut down for the foreseeable future, and real concerns about the degree to which audiences will want to crowd into theaters even to see hits like "Hamilton," putting it out for home viewing probably seems like less of a risk.

Since it looks like we may well still be sheltering at home on July 3, I know what I'm going to be doing … "Hamilton" will be a welcome reminder of what this country was like when it was "young, scrappy and hungry," and how we managed to "fan this spark into a flame."