Walt Disney Company is moving its highly anticipated documentary about the Beatles from theaters to its streaming service Disney+, in the latest sign Hollywood is still unsure if consumers are willing to come back to cinemas in large numbers.
The Beatles: Get Back, a behind-the-scenes peek at the English rock band in its prime, was scheduled to hit theaters in August, after its original 2020 release was delayed owing to the coronavirus pandemic. It now will appear as a three-part series over three days beginning on Thursday, November 25 on the company's $8-a-month Disney+ streaming service at no additional charge, the company said on June 17.
The documentary is directed by Lord of the Rings filmmaker Peter Jackson, and is based on outtakes from an earlier documentary, Let It Be (1970). That film was most notable for its stunning concert on the roof of the Beatles' London headquarters, as well as a testy exchange between guitarist George Harrison and bassist Paul McCartney. That film was criticised, most recently by drummer Ringo Starr, for not really capturing the fun side of the band.
Theatres have had a tough time, with the pandemic scaring fans away from indoor, group experiences. Earlier this month, horror film A Quiet Place Part II, the horror film in its third week, outgrossed the newly released musical In the Heights, a sign that older audiences in particular may be reluctant to return to cinemas, at least in the US.
Disney, like other studios, has been trying different release strategies. It sometimes offers films online and in theatres at the same time and occasionally charges $30 for Disney+ subscribers to watch new films at home.
For now, the studio's forthcoming films, Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (September 3) and the Ryan Reynolds comedy Free Guy (August 13) will release exclusively in cinemas for 45 days before heading to Disney+.