Lost in the craziness of this morning’s massive Disney news — though not on my Twitter feed — was the fact that Kenneth Branagh‘s Artemis Fowl will skip theaters and head straight to Disney+. That’s a big deal for a $125 million movie, though it makes sense for multiple reasons.
For starters, there has always been a lack of genuine excitement for Artemis Fowl compared to Disney’s other marquee movies. That’s not to say that Eoin Colfer‘s book series doesn’t have its fans, because it does. This is a popular kiddie lit character along the lines of, say, Percy Jackson. But industry observers have long suspected Artemis Fowl would suffer the same cruel fate as Ava DuVernay‘s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, so rather than pay for a full-blown theatrical marketing campaign down the line, Disney wisely decided to cut its loses and send it to streaming.
Of course, one company’s trash is its streaming arm’s treasure, and this move has to be seen as a big win for Disney+, which came out of the gate red-hot thanks to The Mandalorian, but has been surprisingly light on new releases ever since. Now, I don’t think people are going to start subscribing to Disney+ to watch Artemis Fowl, nor do I plan to watch this movie myself, but kids will be delighted to watch this at home, and their parents will be all too happy to get more bang for their buck. The service needs original content like this to grow, and has been far too reliant on its library. With Quibi expected to launch next week and HBO Max poised to debut in May, now is the time for Disney to take big swings with its streaming service, even if Artemis Fowl doesn’t turn out to be a streaming sensation like Tiger King.
Artemis Fowl was originally slated to open on Aug. 9, 2019 before Disney moved it to this coming May, where it would’ve faced stiff competition at the summer box office. The film stars Ferdia Shaw as a teenage genius who comes from a family of criminal masterminds and journeys on a quest to find his missing father. Oscar winner Judi Dench co-stars alongside Josh Gad and Colin Farrell.
“With audiences largely unable to attend theaters in the current environment, we are thrilled to offer the premiere of Artemis Fowl on Disney Plus,” said Disney Plus president Ricky Strauss. “Director Kenneth Branagh and his spectacular cast take viewers right into the vibrant, fantasy world of the beloved book, which fans have been waiting to see brought to life onscreen for years. It’s great family entertainment that is the perfect addition to Disney Plus’ summer lineup.”
Artemis Fowl joins Universal’s Trolls World Tour and Paramount’s The Lovebirds as the only movies to forgo a theatrical release in favor of a streaming premiere. The Trolls sequel is heading to VOD, while The Lovebirds has been sold to Netflix. And now, all eyes turn to Warner Bros. as it weighs the fate of Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet.