Disney+ Removes Hundreds Of Movies And TV Shows

By Sean Thiessen | Published

tobey maguire spider-man 4

Disney has undergone massive shake ups in recent weeks amid falling stock prices. Bob Iger returned to the CEO position to replace Bob Chapek, a move that stunned the industry and prompted layoffs and a hiring freeze. While most of these changes have been behind the scenes, consumers are feeling the effects as titles disappear from Disney+, per a report by WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com.

Movies and shows have been departing Disney+ in droves the past few weeks. The effect has been most noticeable in countries outside the United States, and a majority of the programs to be removed have been relatively unpopular. Notable exceptions include Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Terminal Velocity, The Poseidon Adventure, and The Man From Snowy River.

The reasons for the Disney+ content exodus are complex, depending on the title. (Anyone outside the situation would be lucky to wrap their head around the deal between Disney and Sony regarding Spider-Man). The bottom line in each case, however, is money.

Hosting a title on a streaming service has a cost. Everything takes server space, which isn’t free, and residual deals could keep Disney paying filmmakers as long as their work is being viewed on the streaming service. These factors vary, and a cost-benefit analysis for each title may reveal some content to not be earning its keep.

Licensing deals add another layer of complexity when determining what movie goes where. Disney can, and does, license content to other distribution channels for specified periods of time. They could, for instance, license Toy Story to Netflix for X-number of dollars and X-number of years, if both parties felt doing so was beneficial (They aren’t doing that, just to clarify).

Conversely, content Disney licenses for streaming, such as certain National Geographic titles, also has an expiration date. If that license is not renewed, the title will leave the service and go back to whence it came. 

Lending exclusivity rights to other distribution channels, which may cause a title to leave Disney+ temporarily, is a common practice for production companies. The recent pruning of the Disney+ library is not a signal of disaster. Disney cutting costs by removing unpopular titles from their servers is to be expected from a company trying to right the ship financially, as is their impending ad-supported plan, which follows suit with Netflix’s recent change.

A key feature Disney+ lacks that its competitors employ is a warning when a title is going to leave the platform. This becomes a problem for anyone in the middle of a show Disney deems better suited elsewhere. While its flagship titles are likely safe, Disney content that resides off the beaten path may face the chopping block as restructuring continues behind the walls of the famed studio.

With over a century of storytelling and a landmark number of acquisitions, the Disney umbrella encompasses an absurd number of movies and shows. The entire Disney library cannot be sustained on Disney+, and some titles are bound to be left by the wayside. The streaming era, however, has only just begun. As the rulebook for making and distributing content continues to be rewritten on a daily basis, the future of Disney+ and its competitors is an adventure all its own.