‘Hamilton’ Course Change: Disney Sets July 3 Streaming Release For $75 Million Lin-Manuel Miranda Musical

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Mike Fleming Jr
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A bright spot in the pandemic! Disney has just changed its plans to release a filmed version of the Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway musical Hamilton. It now will be released July 3 on Disney+, accelerating an original October 15, 2021, theatrical release, followed by a Disney+ berth.

Disney Executive Chairman Robert Iger andcreator and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda just announced on Good Morning America that Hamilton will brighten up the July 4 weekend with the seminal hip-hop American history tale.

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This comes after Disney moved up the release of the 10-part Michael Jordan docu The Last Dance from a planned release on ESPN during the NBA playoffs. Showing two one-hour segments each week since April 19, the superb series has been a ratings godsend for ESPN and sports-starved fans who otherwise have had nothing to watch due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After Miranda tweeted the news February 3 that the recording of his groundbreaking Broadway show was set for release by Disney in fall 2021, Deadline revealed that the corporation paid $75 million for worldwide rights, beating other suitors and paying what I believe to be the largest sum ever for a finished film in the Endeavor Content-brokered deal. How the straight-to-streaming development impacts Disney’s attempts to monetize its big investment remains to be seen. We’ll also undoubtedly hear from theater chains that looked forward to the film moving their turnstiles.

The musical won 11 Tony Awards in 2016, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Disney won the deal with a commitment for a wide global theatrical release for the 2 hour, 40 minute movie, which was shot two weeks before the original cast left the production. This will be even more of a seminal cultural zeitgeist event, one that, as Miranda himself has said, will allow people to avoid having to pay $500 a seat, which they were before the original cast and he moved on. Prior to the Broadway shutdown, Hamilton had remained atop the Broadway box office charts and its total gross since opening in 2015 is more than $636 million, seen by 2.6 million people. Touring companies are in San Francisco, London with another that would have started by now in Los Angeles, and Australia and Germany being eyed.

There is no opportunity to see Hamilton in any form on a live stage right now, as theaters will be closed possibly until next year. The plan was always that when Hamilton finished its traditional theatrical run, it would become a staple title on Disney+. While Disney has been hard hit in theme parks and filmed theatrical entertainment due to the pandemic — the company is raising another $11 billion in debt financing — that streaming service has been a juggernaut. It just eclipsed 50 million subscribers.

Director Tommy Kail directed both the stage version and the movie, which consisted of shooting three live performances, and also some setup shots without an audience. All of the footage was used to create multiple angles, to ensure the cinematic nature of the event, without a bad seat in the house.

UPDATE: The studio just issued a release on all this at 8:33 am. here it is:

BURBANK, Calif. (May 12, 2020)—The Walt Disney Company, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeffrey Seller and Thomas Kail are pleased to announce that Disney+ will fast track the premiere of the filmed version of the original Broadway production of “Hamilton,” bringing the 11-time-Tony Award®-, GRAMMY Award®-, Olivier Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning stage musical to homes around the world on July 3, 2020.

Producers for “Hamilton,” the film of the original Broadway production, include Miranda, Seller, and Kail, who also directs.

The film is a leap forward in the art of “live capture” which transports its audience into the world of the Broadway show in a uniquely intimate way. Combining the best elements of live theater, film, and streaming, the result is a cinematic stage performance that is a wholly new way to experience “Hamilton.”

“No other artistic work in the last decade has had the cultural impact of ‘Hamilton’—an inspiring and captivating tale told and performed in a powerfully creative way. In light of the extraordinary challenges facing our world, this story about leadership, tenacity, hope, love and the power of people to unite against the forces of adversity is both relevant and impactful,” said Robert A. Iger, Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney Company. “We are thrilled to bring this phenomenon to Disney+ on the eve of Independence Day, and we have the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda and the team behind ‘Hamilton’ to thank for allowing us to do so more than a year before planned.”

“I’m so proud of how beautifully Tommy Kail has brought ‘Hamilton’ to the screen. He’s given everyone who watches this film the best seat in the house,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda. “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.”

Filmed at The Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016, “Hamilton” features Tony Award® winners Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton; Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson; Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler; Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr; Tony Award nominees Christopher Jackson as George Washington; Jonathan Groff as King George; Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton; and Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds; Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison; and Anthony Ramos as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton.

The cast also includes Carleigh Bettiol, Ariana DeBose, Hope Easterbrook, Sydney James Harcourt, Sasha Hutchings, Thayne Jasperson, Elizabeth Judd, Jon Rua, Austin Smith, Seth Stewart and Ephraim Sykes.

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