All signs point to Disney+ being a massive hit at launch

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

Last month, at Comic-Con 2019, Disney revealed a slew of original Marvel shows and movies for Disney+ that left superhero fans drooling to pay up for the streaming subscription when it launches in November.

This past weekend, at its biennial D23 Expo, Disney did it again.

For starters, Disney dropped the first full-length trailer for “The Mandalorian,” the highly anticipated live-action “Star Wars” spinoff series. Former MMA fighter Gina Carano, “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi, and Carl Weathers were among the cast members that appeared on stage at D3 to tee up the trailer, which featured a surprise appearance by Werner Herzog, and began with a shot of Storm Trooper heads on pikes, a clue this series will be dark and aimed at adults.

But “The Mandalorian” was the very earliest new show that Disney publicly announced in November 2017, back before its streaming service even had a name.

What captured attention all weekend were the surprises—and most of them are reboots, remakes, or spinoffs.

Disney+ will get a “Lizzie McGuire” revival series, starring Hilary Duff as the original character from the beloved Disney Channel show, now in her 30s. The original series ran from 2001 to 2004. The show will be on Disney+ in time for its Nov. 12 launch date.

“High School Musical” is getting a revival of sorts: a live-action series about a high school putting on a musical of the show “High School Musical.” The name of the show is “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” and it will hit Disney+ at launch.

If that isn’t enough theater-related content, Kristen Bell (“Veronica Mars”) is hosting a reality show about high school theater kids reuniting as adults to put on a play together. The show, “Encore!,” will be available on Disney+ at launch.

“Monsters Inc.” is getting a spinoff series, an animated show that picks up right where the original movie left off, after the monsters of Monsters, Inc. change their energy-collection method from extracting screams to laughter. The show will be called “Monsters at Work,” and it has no premier date yet.

“Phineas and Ferb” is getting a spinoff movie focused on the Candace character from the Disney Channel animated series, which ran from 2008 through 2015. The movie will be called “Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe.”

To continue the live-action remake train, Disney is putting a “Lady and the Tramp” live-action movie on Disney+ at launch. Keep in mind that the live-action “Aladdin” remake has brought in $1.04 billion at the global box office, while the live-action “Lion King” is at $1.51 billion and still going.

Even Forky, the new spork character from this summer’s box-office hit “Toy Story 4,” is getting a spinoff: a series of one-off shorts starring the character, grouped together as “Forky Asks A Question.” The shorts will begin hitting Disney+ at launch and Disney played one of them at D3.

Marvel and Jeff Goldblum

Disney also gave more details on some of the already-announced Marvel shows, including the animated series “What If...?”, in which Marvel superheroes explore alternate plotlines that would not be possible in the film timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; “Wandavision,” a series about “Scarlet Witch” Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olson); and “Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” about Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and “Winter Soldier” Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan).

Oh, and Jeff Goldblum, the extremely popular actor from “Jurassic Park” and more recently the Apartments.com ads, is getting his own Anthony Bourdain-type travel series called “The World According to Jeff Goldblum.” That will be sitting on the service at launch.

Gary Marsh, president and CCO of Disney Channels Worldwide, introduces Hilary Duff at Disney's D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif., on Aug. 23, 2019. (Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA via Getty Images)

That’s not everything that Disney trotted out on stage at D3, but it’s enough to prove a point: Disney+ is very likely to be a smash success at launch, and it’s because Disney is spreading the zone. The service will have something for all fans: Marvel devotees; Star Wars geeks; millennials who grew up watching Disney Channel shows; animation lovers; new parents of young kids.

In addition, the launch price point of $6.99 a month undercuts streaming competitors at a time when surveys indicate Americans are still willing to add more subscriptions before they hit a peak and begin looking to cut some.

Disney knows the power of millennial nostalgia, and much of the offerings on Disney+ are aimed at luring subscriptions from young 20-something and 30-somethings eager to revisit their childhood.

The “Lizzie McGuire” revival, in particular, has the potential to appeal to young girls today instead of just millennials who remember the show from when they were teens. It could hit perfectly in an era when feminism and equal pay for women in the workplace are major news themes of 2019.

In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Duff said, “There are big hurdles to climb over when you’re 30, and if she can be there for women that are going through what she’s going through, I’m so happy to step into the shoes again.”

Disney has said it is aiming to have 20% to 30% of broadband households subscribed to Disney+ by 2024. UBS is even more bullish: UBS surveyed 2,000 adults in the U.S. between April and May and found that 43% are interested in Disney+, which would put the service closer to 40 million subscribers by 2024.

Daniel Roberts is a senior writer and show host at Yahoo Finance and closely covers Disney. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

Read more:

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