One of the marvelous aspects of streaming on demand services is that, given some promotion and decent word of mouth, documentary films have an equal chance to shine with the fictional movies and shows. Disney+ just announced an expanded roster of documentaries that will be coming to the service beginning November 12.
One we’re really looking forward to is Disney producer Don Hahn’s “Howard.” It chronicles the life of lyricist Howard Ashman who worked with Alan Menken on such classics as “Aladdin” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” We’re also intrigued by the “Untitled Mickey Mouse Documentary” from producer Morgan Neville and director Jeff Malmberg.
“Disney has a rich history in nonfiction storytelling that dates back to the 1940s,” said Ricky Strauss, president, content & marketing, Disney+. “The projects […] reflect Disney+’s commitment to building on Walt’s storytelling ethos and core values of creativity, innovation, and exploration.”
Recent announcements include:
Disney+ has acquired the worldwide distribution rights for the critically acclaimed documentary “Howard.” Directed by Don Hahn (“Beauty and the Beast”), “Howard” is the untold story of Howard Ashman, the brilliant lyricist behind Disney classics like “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and creator of musicals including “Little Shop of Horrors.” The film will stream exclusively on Disney+ in 2020.
Academy Award, Grammy Award, and Emmy Award-winning documentarian Morgan Neville (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” “20 Feet From Stardom”) is producing an untitled Mickey Mouse Documentary for the service. Directed by Jeff Malmberg (“Marwencol,” “Shangri-La”), the film will work to decode Mickey’s deeper significance, getting to the core of what his cultural impact says about each of us, and about our world. From Tremolo Productions and Lincoln Square Productions, the film will strive to be the definitive analysis of Mickey as a cultural icon.
As part of its overall deal with production company Supper Club, Disney+ announced a trio of new projects for the service:
- “People & Places” will re-launch Walt Disney’s Academy Award-winning series of documentary short films. Following in Walt’s footsteps, the series will focus on real-life stories of extraordinary people and places from around the globe that embody the Disney ethos — all told by a mix of up-and-coming and established filmmakers.
- “Wolfgang,” directed by David Gelb (“Jiro Dreams of Sushi”), will be an intimate portrait of the life and work of the original “celebrity chef,” Wolfgang Puck.
- Multi-talented artist Gillian Jacobs (“Love, “Community”) will direct the first episode in the previously announced documentary anthology series “Marvel’s 616.” From the perspective of what it means to be a woman in what’s perceived to be a male-driven industry, “Higher, Further, Faster” will shine a light on the trailblazing women of Marvel Comics and explores how they found ways to tell stories of representation and inclusion. Jacobs will be joined by Paul Scheer, David Gelb, and Andrew Rossi, among others, to helm additional episodes of the series. The episodes will focus on a range of topics including an intimate look at the cosplay community, Marvel’s influence and relationship with hip-hop, illustrators who live and work internationally, and following a high school theater production of Marvel and Disney’s “Spotlight” program. “Marvel’s 616” will stream exclusively on Disney+ in 2020.
Disney+ will also be the exclusive global streaming home for National Geographic’s Emmy Award-winning documentary film “Science Fair,” which will be available when the service launches on November 12. The winner of audience awards at Sundance Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival, “Science Fair” follows nine high school students from around the globe as they navigate rivalries, setbacks and, of course, hormones, on their journey to compete at The International Science and Engineering Fair.
The preview happened at the International Documentary Association where Disney+ provided an inside look at upcoming titles:
Executive Producer Kristen Bell shared the first extended look at her unscripted series “Encore!.” The series brings together former castmates of a high school musical, tasking them with re-creating their original performance in a high school reunion like no other. Each episode follows a new cast of returning alumni as they attempt to pull off a standing-ovation-worthy performance of beloved musicals like “The Sound of Music,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Annie” and more. “Encore!” will stream exclusively on Disney+ November 12.
Sarah Amos, vice president, Development & Production, Marvel New Media, Supper Club’s Jason Sterman, and Gillian Jacobs shared insight into original nonfiction stories that complement and explore the 80-year legacy of Marvel including “Marvel’s Hero Project,” which premieres on Disney+ November 12. Produced by Supper Club and directed by Jacobs, “Marvel’s 616” including “Higher, Further, Faster” will stream on Disney+ in 2020.
Prolific documentarian and Academy Award and Emmy Award-nominated director and producer Leslie Iwerks (“The Pixar Story,” “Citizen Hearst”) gave a look inside the production process of her documentary series “The Imagineering Story.” The six-hour saga chronicles the 67-year history of Walt Disney Imagineering, a place best described as equal parts artist studio, design center, think tank and innovation laboratory. “The Imagineering Story” streams exclusively on Disney+ November 12.
Jeff Goldblum, who executive produces and stars in “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” from National Geographic, premiered the series’ “Tattoos” episode for the audience before giving a peek inside his curious mind. Each episode of the series is centered around something we all love — like sneakers or ice cream — as Jeff pulls the thread on deceptively familiar objects and unravels a wonderful world of astonishing connections, fascinating science and history, amazing people, and a whole lot of surprising big ideas and insights. “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” streams exclusively on Disney+ November 12.
The nonfiction Disney+ Originals will join the previously announced slate of scripted live-action and animated series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Lucasfilm, and more, in addition to Disney+ vast library of nearly 500 films and 7,500 television episodes including 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” in the U.S. Disney+ is now available for pre-order in the U.S.
International Documentary Association Executive Director Simon Kilmurry and Leslie Iwerks speak onstage as The International Documentary Association showcases Disney+ original nonfiction series at NeueHouse Los Angeles on October 18, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Disney+)