Today, the International Documentary Association invited Disney+ to give the documentary filmmaking community an inside look at the streaming service’s nonfiction content strategy, including announcing the following Disney+ titles and filmmakers:
- Howard, directed by Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast);
- People & Places, which is produced by Supper Club’s Jason Sterman, Brian McGinn and David Gelb (13th, Amanda Knox, Chef’s Table), relaunches the original Walt Disney documentary short film series from the 1950s and 1960s;
- National Geographic’s Emmy Award-winning feature documentary Science Fair will stream exclusively on the service;
- an Untitled Mickey Mouse Documentary from award-winning producer Morgan Neville (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, 20 Feet From Stardom) and director Jeff Malmberg (Marwencol, Shangri-la);
- and Wolfgang, directed by Supper Club co-founder David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi).
- Additionally, actress/filmmaker Gillian Jacobs will direct an episode of the previously announced Marvel’s 616 series.
“Disney has a rich history in nonfiction storytelling that dates back to the 1940s,” said Ricky Strauss, president, content & marketing, Disney+. “The projects announced and showcased here today reflect Disney+’s commitment to building on Walt’s storytelling ethos and core values of creativity, innovation, and exploration.”
The showcase featured Strauss along with Disney+ executives Agnes Chu, SVP, content; and Dan Silver, vice president, originals – unscripted, as well as discussions with executive producers behind launch originals, including Kristen Bell (executive producer, Encore!), Jeff Goldblum (The World According to Jeff Goldblum), and Leslie Iwerks (director, The Imagineering Story). Marvel New Media’s VP of Development & Production Sarah Amos, Supper Club’s Jason Sterman and Gillian Jacobs (director, Marvel’s 616) presented Marvel’s initial plans for Disney+ nonfiction storytelling.
Disney+ kicked off the afternoon by unveiling and offering insight into the newly announced projects:
- 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.Producers from nonfiction titles that will be available when Disney+ launches joined Simon Kilmurry, executive director, International Documentary Association and Lynette Rice, editor at large, Entertainment Weekly for a series of conversations exploring their behind-the-scenes process and working with Disney+.
- 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.