UPDATE: Spin was NOT on the September list, but Descendants Royal Wedding which came out the same day is coming in September. Weird… Stay tuned for more updates as we hope for a quicker turnaround.
UPDATE 2: Spin arrives November 12th, a much shorter window!
Let’s start with some basics – windowing refers to the contractually obligated period of time that a film or series is exclusive to one medium or service. Windows have existed for decades and have always made things frustrating and confusing for consumers. One of the only good things to come from the pandemic and (coincidentally) simultaneous expansion of major streaming services is that studios are finally restructuring the process in ways that benefit impatient streamer subscribers.
Much adieu has been made since last year about the shortening of theatrical windows – the period of time between a film’s premiere in cinemas and its availability on digital, home media, and streaming. Films used to be held to a 3-month theatrical window. After that, cinemas lost exclusive rights to films and they would be released on Video on demand (VOD) for rental. Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube are the most common VOD providers. Home Media releases (Blu Ray and DVD) dropped in this same timeframe. This home media window lasted another 3-5 months before films could finally arrive on streaming services. For a more extreme example, Cinderella (2015) premiered in theatres March 13, 2015, but did not arrive on Starz until January 8, 2016! That’s a 10-month wait! Those days are long gone.
The New Normal For Windows
We are now seeing day-and-date releases (Premier Access on Disney+ or WarnerMedia’s 2021 slate released same day on HBO Max). All the major studios have experimented with much shorter windows in an attempt to bolster their streaming services and look to be settling on ~45-day windows. We’ve seen that on Paramount+ with films like A Quiet Place II (2021) and WarnerMedia announced all their films starting in 2022 will use this window. Disney+ is trying it out with Free Guy (2021) and Shang-Chi (2021).
What some may not know is that windowing affects made-for-TV films as well. We were able to determine the DCOM window was exactly 6 months thanks to the 3 DCOMS that arrived on Disney+ after launch.
Descendants 3 (2019) premiered August 2, 2019 —> Disney+ on February 2, 2020
ZOMBIES 2 (2020) premiered February 14, 2020 —> Disney+ on August 14, 2020
Upside-Down Magic (2020) released July 31, 2020 —> Disney+ on February 5, 2021
Spin (2021) released August 13, 2021 —>Disney+ on February 11, 2022? Probably not… read on.
Disney Channel and National Geographic series have seen their windows shortened as well. Remember at launch when it took some time after a season ended before it premiered on Disney+? Then we saw that morph into seasons dropping 1-2 weeks after completion. Now this spring Disney eliminated that altogether and began adding batches of in-season episodes every 5-10 episodes. Fantastic!
Get To Spin, Man
When Disney announced new Halloween and Christmas-themed DCOMS this year we hoped it would lead to much shorter windows so that the films could be added to Disney+ this season instead of being held back for next year. With the changes to theatrical film windowing and Disney Channel series windows it made sense that the DCOMs would see a collapsed window too with Spin being the big test.
After yesterday’s premiere of Spin we believe the windows have indeed disintegrated. Windows can be assessed using on-demand expiration dates which is how I accurately predicted the arrival week of Upside-Down Magic, Zombies 2, and the Miraculous specials before any news sites last year and how I’ve consistently predicted the arrival times for completed Disney Channel seasons.
Spin is scheduled to expire on demand August 21st, only 1 week after its premiere. This makes it likely that Spin will arrive on August 27th or September 3rd. The latter is more likely since the August list is already released.
If this is true, then the odds of Under Wraps (2021) and Christmas…Again?! (2021) arriving in time for Halloween and Christmas are high. Disney tends to air their holiday episodes / DCOMS at the beginning of October and December. If both films premiere in the first two weeks of the month they could arrive just before the holidays on Disney+!
Did you watch Spin yet? Are you waiting for its Disney+ release? Are you excited about the potential of DCOMS coming to the service much, much faster?
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.