Disney Creators Let Off Steam Over Disappearing Movies and Streaming TV Shows

Eliza Skinner had no idea her Disney+ series Earth to Ned would be permanently removed from the platform until a text chat from the show’s writers group in mid-May shares an article about Disney removing more than 70 movies and series from its streaming services this month. Among the missing titles was the comedy talk show – which launched in 2020 with Skinner as head writer – centering on an alien welcoming celebrities to his spaceship.

Due to its classification as a streaming variety series, Skinner says the writers and performers weren’t getting any residuals, though the show’s team heard rumors blaming Disney’s tax bill. But even if his loss is not financial, Earth to Ned can no longer serve as a calling card to help land future gigs for Skinner, who also does not own a physical copy of the show.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

“It’s part of that general mindset of the value of art and creativity that says, ‘Wow, you’ve spent all this time on this, so you deserve at least a phone call,'” Skinner , who picketed with other Writers Guild members. , recount The Hollywood Reporter. “You deserve at least a little understanding of what’s going on with your job. But it’s a whole climate of devaluation.

During an earnings call on May 10, Disney Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy announced that she would “remove certain content from streaming platforms.” The company, which has suffered ongoing layoffs, revealed in a June 2 corporate filing that it would take a $1.5 billion writedown on removed programming. More content is expected to disappear in the third quarter.

“I would definitely just be curious to hear more about what influenced the decision,” says filmmaker Ashley Avis, whose 2020 Disney+ feature film, black beauty, which adapted the classic novel and featured the voice of Kate Winslet, was part of the exodus. “It’s hard as an artist trying to figure out where to navigate.”

Among the titles permanently removed on May 26 from Disney-owned platforms, Disney+ and Hulu were a mix of shows ranging from Y: The Last Man, doll face And The Mysterious Benedict Society to series based on the movies willow, mighty ducks And Turner & Hooch. Also missing are films such as Kenneth Branagh Artemis Poultry and last year’s Cheaper by the dozen redo.

Phoebe Robinson, star and creator of comedy series Everything is trash, which debuted on Freeform in July, was also not told that it would be removed from Hulu, which she says is “not the way I would have handled it.” Robinson laments that the show didn’t have more time to find an audience, especially given the voices it aimed to amplify. “It’s quite curious that at a time when television shows are becoming, at a somewhat icy pace, more and more inclusive in front and behind the scenes, there is no more money suddenly”, note it 2 Dope Queens alum. “We worked hard to develop our skills, we entered the room – and now there are no more rooms?”

But Disney seems to be following a playbook of other big, belt-tightening media companies. In January, Warner Bros. Discovery has signed deals with Roku and Tubi to feature some of its content, including Westworld, The Time Traveler’s Wife And Boy’s Island — after WBD announced late last year that it would retire those and other titles to license batches of its shows to ad-supported free-to-air TV platforms. In January, Showtime decided to cut short-lived original series like Joke, super pumped And american rust from the cable channel’s streaming platform backed by Paramount Global.

If providing an endless home for an endless array of titles had at one time seemed like part of the allure of the streaming era, devoid of the inherent constraints of linear TV channels, perhaps the bloom is in pink. “It’s bad, both for the creators and potentially for the platform,” says Michael D. Smith, professor of information technology and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University and author of Streaming, sharing, stealing. “Streaming platforms should be able to direct people to the right content.”

Although Disney hasn’t announced a deal to license the discontinued titles to FAST platforms, experts expect media companies with vast libraries to continue to see the promise of these channels. Tim Hanlon, CEO of media consultancy Vertere Group and former consultant for the FAST service Pluto TV, envisions a world in which, say, Amazon recently entered into The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel finds himself on such a platform in the future: “Logic would dictate that it’s time to figure out how to further monetize this show, now that its first run is over.”

For creators, the disappearance of their work is just the latest in a list of reasons why streaming projects generate frustration. “All things being equal, most people would rather work on a network or cable show than a streaming show because the rates are better and you’re more likely to see residuals,” says Nick Wiger, A Earth to Ned writer whose credits include both cable and streaming. “But in terms of the jobs on offer, it’s like ‘I got this streaming job, or I couldn’t work,’ and that’s a calculation a lot of people make.”

Creators say they’re willing to tackle the kinds of projects that studios perceive as valuable, but that’s still easier said than done, due to the lack of transparency around not just why certain titles were dropped. , but only general information about the audience. Smith also notes the inherent fragmentation of FAST platforms, resulting in a lack of widespread user data to inform ad selection.

According to Skinner, creatives have been led to believe that working with celebrities or proven intellectual property is a way for projects to gain attention, but the fact that Disney recently cut titles in both categories perpetuates the lack. of clarity. “We have no idea how to plan ahead in any direction because it’s very hard to tell what’s going on,” she says. “If you walk into a museum, nobody says, ‘People don’t stop for long in front of this painting, let’s throw it in the trash.’ Or if you did, we’d all have to assume, “Well, that painting isn’t worth anything.”

A version of this story first appeared in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

The best of The Hollywood Reporter

Click here to read the full article.

Leave a Comment