Disney+ and The Mandalorian fumble

The Mandalorian
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Disney+ insists that it’s sticking to its planned weekly rollout of The Mandalorian in the UK – but why? A few thoughts.

Confirmation landed at the end of last week from Disney that, in spite of changing circumstances around the world, it was sticking to its Disney+ guns. It had already faced pressure to move the release of its streaming service forward in the UK from its March 24th release. It’s likely that its hands are tied there, thanks to rights issues with the material it’s making available on the service.

However, what it has more flexibility over is the jewel in its launch line-up, the acclaimed Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian.

The show, which runs to eight episodes, will be available on day one for Disney+ subscribers in Britain. Well, one episode will. A second episode will drop on March 27th (this coming Friday) and then Disney is sticking to the weekly rollout thereafter.

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic broke, this seemed an odd decision. Disney+, of course, launched in the US last winter, and stuck to the weekly release schedule then. But are we supposed to go with the line that everyone in the UK has steadfastly waited for their opportunity to watch this show, and not found other nefarious means to do so? That a proportion of the audience for the show have found other ways to watch it, that are not to the financial benefit of Disney? We’re absolutely not advocating those methods, but it seems daft to pretend they don’t exist.

And of course, those UK Star Wars fans who have waited for the show to become available have had it thoroughly spoilt in places. Not just by online discussion about the contents of the eight episodes, but by Disney’s own merchandising arm that’s releasing products relating to a character within the show.

Thus, even before we got to the launch of the service, it seemed blind to the world that The Mandalorian would stick to a weekly cycle in the UK for its first season, when the show was already widely out there. The hope – perhaps even the expectation – was that all episodes would drop at once.


What’s doubly disappointing, then, is that against a backdrop of the likes of the BBC adding more boxsets to its service to help with the number of people stuck at home for the next few weeks, Disney still isn’t budging. It confirmed so in its announcement last week, and whilst it’s its show and it’s entirely up to it what it does with it and when, it seemed a bit odd before current circumstances bit. It seems doubly odd now.

When season two comes around, in theory at the end of the year, the disparity between release dates won’t exist, and everyone in the world can get the show at the same time. But why not just accept that for season one, things are different, and that the world ain’t in the best place?

In the backdrop of this, there is the problem Disney+ faces in that its flow of brand new original material is hardly on the sizeable size for the next few months. What’s more, the original shows that it’s been banking on to keep us hooked in across the year have been delayed. The next big release – The Falcon And The Winter Soldier – was due to be launched at the end of the summer, but along with pretty much everything else, production has been halted. The upcoming slate of originals from Disney+ is looking a little sparse in the months ahead.

Nonetheless, The Mandalorian is already out there. It’s already been released, discussed, digested, spoilt and watched over and over. The metaphorical horse has long bolted the equally metaphorical stable. To dig in over its release schedule is entirely Disney’s right, but feels like it’s a rare misreading of the room.

Disney+ launches in the UK tomorrow.

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