This past weekend was the Destination D23 event, with fans treated to some exciting Disney news. We learned a great deal about what’s coming to all the Disney Parks around the world, but we also learned that the studio’s most recent big-screen adventure, Haunted Mansion is set to drop on Disney+ in less than a month on October 4. It’s the perfect release date for a Disney horror movie, which makes one wonder, why wasn’t this the date for the actual theatrical release?
Disney’s new Haunted Mansion got a better response from critics than the Eddie Murphy version from two decades earlier, but it has struggled even more at the box office. One has to wonder if the late July release date was part of the problem. Perhaps people weren’t in the mood for a somewhat scary Disney movie in the middle of summer. If that’s the case we can expect the movie to do very well on Disney+ when it drops in October.
Horror movies certainly do get released at any time of year, and they have a chance of being successful at any time of year as well. Having said that, we certainly see more of those sorts of films in the fall, leading up to Halloween, and the reason for that is pretty clear. There’s a belief that audiences are just in the mood for those films at that time of year. If that’s the case, why not release Haunted Mansion in the fall?
The fact is that there are no upcoming Disney movies with a theatrical release in the month of October, so it’s not like there was some other movie that Disney really wanted to drop during that period. Maybe a shift to October wouldn’t have helped the movie, which has barely broken $100 million at the global box office, but it certainly couldn’t have been any worse.
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Then again, maybe this was the plan the whole time. A late July release in theaters for Haunted Mansion very specifically leads to a Disney+ release in early fall, and maybe Disney felt that Haunted Mansion was always going to be a movie that thrived on streaming rather than in theaters. The film has the potential to get more views on Disney+ in October than it would if it came out at Christmas time, which is what would happen if the film had been released in theaters in October.
The fact that Haunted Mansion is hitting Disney+ on the same day that it is made available for Digital purchase certainly indicates Disney isn’t banking on a lot of those sales, the focus is clearly on streaming. With Disney+ currently running a strong promo, maybe the hope is the movie will draw new subscribers, as it will be cheaper to get Disney+ under the current deal than buy the movie.
As somebody who enjoyed Haunted Mansion a great deal, I’m bummed that it wasn’t able to find an audience in theaters. Perhaps it will find that audience when it arrives on Disney+.