Disney chief says animated film will provide fun and joy during challenging period while company halts production on live-action movies
Walt Disney will fast-track the release of the Frozen sequel to its streaming platform in a bid to spark fun and joy during the coronavirus outbreak, while at the same time joining US streaming giant Netflix in shutting down some of its productions.
The company said on Friday that Frozen 2 would be available on its digital streaming platform Disney+ from Sunday in the US, three months earlier than scheduled. The film, released in cinemas last year, is the sequel to its 2013 animated blockbuster.
The film will be released in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands from March 17.
In a statement, Walt Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said the company brought the release forward with the hope of surprising families with some fun and joy during this challenging period.
Frozen 2 has captivated audiences around the world through its powerful themes of perseverance and the importance of family, messages that are incredibly relevant during this time, and we are pleased to be able to share this heartwarming story early with our Disney+ subscribers to enjoy at home on any device, Chapek said.
At the same time, Disney and Netflix said they would halt production in the US and Canada amid growing concerns about the spread of the pandemic in North America.
Netflix will shutdown its production of scripted TV and film production for two weeks, while Disney has also paused production on some of its live-action movies, including The Little Mermaid.
The Guardian understands production of Netflix only current Australian production, Clickbait, will continue in Melbourne for now, though that may change depending on the course of the outbreak.
The continuing spread of coronavirus has already put pressure on the entertainment industry. In Australia and the US a number of productions have been halted, including in Queensland where Baz Luhrmanns as-yet untitled production about Elvis Presley had to be halted after US Academy Award winner Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson contracted the virus.