UPDATE August 18: Sneakerella is officially being promoted as a Disney Channel Original Movie in a new press release by Disney Music Group. It also looks like it may be coming in November around the time of Encanto since October and December already have Disney Channel Original Movies scheduled. We’re still not sure Disney knows what they are doing as it is a Disney Channel produced film and that would be a logical time for a Disney+ release… they may be misspeaking. Thanks to @_grxnttt_ on Twitter for the tip.
UPDATE September 12: We just scooped that Sneakerella is delayed to 2022, but will NOT be a Disney Channel Original Movie!
UPDATE November 12: Scoop confirmed – Sneakerella premieres February 2022. Thankfully it is NOT a Disney Channel Original Movie.
A couple days ago in a discussion with kids media consultant Emily Horgan we discussed Disney’s concerning habit of prioritizing linear Disney Channel over Disney Plus in the USA. I will share some of those realizations in a bit, but first, the long list of slights may have just grown. Disney fan @_grxnttt_ asked me about the release plans for Sneakerella which wrapped December 2020. Most people expected it to be released this summer. I told him that the novelization had a November release on Amazon when it was posted earlier this year. After checking, the date has since been pushed to May 2022. That… does not bode well for release this year.
Is it possible the novelization comes out after the movie? Yeah… but that’s not usually how it works. Example: Disney yesterday announced that Christmas… Again?! (2021) comes out in December. The novelization is listed for a September 7th release, about 3 months prior to its expected December 10th premiere date. Last year Soul (2020) came out on Disney+ at Christmas, but the novelization was out in October. Gotta love the continued tradition of spoiling films through books!
If you look closely at the description, they call it a “Disney Original Movie” which is a really weird phrase. Not a Disney Channel Original Movie. Not a Disney+ original movie. My guess is they intend to slip the word “Channel” in there. This is further supported by the description saying “Fans of Disney Channel Original Movies like Descendants and Zombies will love this…” Here we go again?
As I’ve discussed a few times with Emily and other analysts, Disney Channel higher-ups appear to be locked in a battle with Disney+. They are desperately clinging to the “old ways” by hoarding content for the “dinosaur” (linear). That’s her word, credit where due. Here is the troubling timeline loaded with slights. Once or twice is a coincidence. But after a while, it paints a certain picture, Gary Marsh.
Timeline of Disney Channel Slighting Disney Plus
May 7th, 2019: Secrets of Sulphur Springs (2021) moves to Disney Channel after having originally been produced by Disney Channel for Disney+ [Source]
July 8th, 2019: Shook, starring Sofia Wylie, is announced as an upcoming Disney+ original series with Disney Channel producing. [Source]
August 23rd, 2019: Lizzie McGuire revival is announced for Disney+ to enormously positive reaction. Disney Channel will produce. [Source]
January 21st, 2020: Ultra Violet & Blue Demon is announced as a Disney Channel original series. [Source]
March 16th, 2020: Spin (2021) is announced as an upcoming Disney+ original Movie produced by Disney Channel. [Source]
August 21st, 2020: Spin is now a Disney Channel Original Movie. This announcement came literally one year after Disney Channel pulled Shook away. [Source]
September 25th, 2020: Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (2020) is released as a Disney+ original film produced by Disney Channel. The only Disney Channel-produced content to actually release on Disney+ as planned.
October 7th, 2020: Under Wraps (2021) is announced with the expectation it would be a Disney+ original film. [Source]
November 10th, 2020: Christmas…Again?! (2021) is announced as a Disney Channel Original Movie. [Source]
November 13th, 2020: Under Wraps is now a Disney Channel Original Movie. [Source]
December 16th, 2020: Lizzie McGuire is officially cancelled after Disney Channel refused to let it “grow up.” [Source]
March 8th, 2021: Eureka! is announced as a Disney Junior original series. [Source]
March 12th, 2021: Descendants: The Royal Wedding (2021) is announced as a Disney Channel special. [Source]
March 20th, 2021: Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 3 (2022) is announced as a Disney Channel Original Movie. Production Weekly incorrectly lists it as a Disney+ film. [Source]
April 27th, 2021: Disney’s Magic Bake-Off (2021) is announced as a Disney Channel original series. [Source]
May 11th, 2021: Alice’s Wonderland Bakery (2022) is announced as a Disney Channel original series. [Source]
Spring 2021: Sneakerella novelization is pushed back from November 2021 to May 2022 with signs of it becoming a Disney Channel Original Movie in summer 2022.
August 6th, 2021: Spidey and His Amazing Friends (2021) premieres as a new Disney Junior original series.
August 14th, 2021: Spin, Descendants: Royal Wedding and Magic Bake-Off all premiere on Disney Channel.
August 20th, 2021: Mickey Mouse Funhouse (2021) premieres as a new Disney Junior original series.
October 2021: Under Wraps premieres as a Disney Channel Original Movie.
October 2021: The Ghost and Molly McGee (2021) premieres as a new Disney Channel original series. Probably same day as Under Wraps. (Later confirmed.)
December 3, 2021: Christmas…Again?! premieres as a Disney Channel Original Movie. Fortunately it arrived on Disney+ earlier in the day!
As you can see, most Disney+ Original films or series (in the case of Shook) that were produced by Disney Channel were “stolen” from Disney+ and released elsewhere. As Emily Horgan and I have discussed before – Disney Channel’s major franchises have not been developed for Disney+ and Disney Channel hasn’t pulled its weight. I mentioned the lack of any original content from their massively popular Descendants or Zombies franchises.
The announcement of the Descendants special this August felt like a missed opportunity to show parents that Disney+ was home to more than the old and dusty reruns of their kid’s favorites, but the shiny and new too. ZOMBIES 3 not being a Disney+ Original to complete the franchise was another missed opportunity to gain subscribers.
Disney stealing Under Wraps and Spin to release as DCOMS the same year they have Christmas…Again?! feels like another slight. This is the first year since 2015 that Disney Channel will release more than 2 DCOMS in one year! That… doesn’t feel right. Fortunately, as of December 3rd we know that all 3 arrived on Disney+ fairly quickly after premiering, but it feels like there was a lot of arguing behind the scenes to get there.
While international Disney Channels are being shut down at a rapid pace, the USA team refuses to cooperate, desperately hoarding new series such Ultra Violet, Eureka, Magic Bake-Off, The Ghost and Molly McGee, Spidey and His Amazing Friends, Mickey Mouse Funhouse (2021), and Alice’s Wonderland Bakery (2022) etc.
Of course Disney Channel and Junior must continue to release new originals but a lot people have commented on how strange it is that none of them are ever produced for Disney+…
*looks at Gary Marsh*
Come on, man.
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.