The choice in online streaming movies and TV series has never been better in New Zealand, and 2019 offers even more choice for viewers with two new mainstream services set to shake up our streaming selection, while existing services continue to compete with entertaining options.
Walt Disney first announced plans to start its own streaming service in 2017 and Disney+ is finally inching its way here. An exact launch date for New Zealand is still to be announced but Disney+ will start in the US in late-2019 and roll out from there, including to Australasia.
Disney+ is exciting because it promises not only all of Disney’s famed family friendly movies but its expanded repertoire including Lucasfilm’s Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel and National Geographic – each likely to have their own channel. It is likely to offer all of the Star Wars and Marvel movies made so far, as well as exclusive new content.
The price of subscription to Disney+ will be lower than Netflix, in the US at least, with Disney CEO Bob Iger saying the service will have less content than Netflix at the beginning.
However, Disney is working on new content for the streaming service to add to its much-loved existing content:
Star Wars: The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian is one of two original new Star Wars TV shows set to premier on Disney+. The Mandalorian follows the exploits of a gun-toting bounty hunter – of Boba Fett’s ilk – during the establishment of the First Order. Written and produced by Jon Favreau, the director of Iron Man, the show is in production with a number of notable directors, including New Zealand’s own Taika Waititi. The Mandalorian will star Narcos actor Pedro Pascal and Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito.
The other Star Wars series will be based on Rebel spy Cassian Andor, as a prequel to the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Mexican actor Diego Luna will reprise his role for the series. Let’s hope launch date is not too far, far away!
Also set to be included in the new offerings for Disney+ is a Marvel live-action series based on antihero Loki. Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role from the Thor and Avengers movies to lead the series. A Monsters, Inc. series and a new High School Musical series are also in the pipeline.
Frozen 2 is just one of a number of highly anticipated movie titles which will be streamed on Disney+, rather than Netflix – which currently streams Disney movies. Also included in the line-up are Toy Story 4 and the live-action Lion King movie.
Frozen 2 is the sequel to the immensely popular 2013 animated feature film Frozen, which was based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen. While Frozen has produced a world of spin-offs including television shows, video games, short films and live productions, Frozen 2 promises an original storyline.
Other movies expected from Disney include book adaptations like The Paper Magician and Don Quixote, and live-action remakes of The Sword in the Stone and Lady and the Tramp.
WarnerMedia is also set to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2019. Formerly named Time Warner, WarnerMedia is owned by multi-national conglomerate AT&T. It will be able to offer films, television series, documentaries and cartoons from its existing treasure trove which includes the Warner Bros studios, Turner Broadcasting and HBO.
Less details about WarnerMedia’s streaming service have been released when compared with Disney+ but the company is set to offer three different-priced options: a movies-only plan, original programming with blockbuster films and the highest-priced choice will include content licenced from other companies.
WarnerMedia is being careful not to cannibalise its existing income streams, so it is not clear yet what will premier exclusively on WarnerMedia’s new platform. However, the company has a raft of exciting upcoming releases:
Wonder Woman 1984
Warner Bros has brought forward the release of Wonder Woman 1984 from mid-2020 to November 2019. Now a favourite of the DC Comic cast, Wonder Woman will again be played by Israeli star Gal Gadot, with supporting actors including Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig. Directed by Patty Jenkins, this movie will see Wonder Woman coming to the US.
Wonder Woman 1984 is one of a number of DC sequels announced for release by Warner Bros. Other titles include The Batman, an antihero Batman film which will introduce a replacement to Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader, and Suicide Squad sequel The Suicide Squad. Both are set for release in mid-2021.
A long-awaited sequel to the 1980 horror movie The Shining, Doctor Sleep is set to be released by Warner Bros in November 2019. Based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, Doctor Sleep focuses on the grown-up child from The Shining, Danny Torrance, played by Ewan McGregor. Dan still has psychic powers but struggles with alcoholism, and he tries to protect a young girl with similar psychic powers. The film is directed by Mike Flanagan.
Netflix is no newcomer in New Zealand, but the popular streaming service will be working on adding more of its own original content in 2019. In part, this is because it will lose the rights to stream Disney-owned movies at the end of 2019 due to the launch of Disney+. But, let’s face it, Netflix is building a reputation for creating interesting and entertaining content which keeps fans hooked. Its 2019 offering looks to be no exception:
“Didn’t you get the news? We’re about to die.” Russian Doll is an original new series created by
Amy Poehler from Parks and Recreation, Natasha Lyonne from Orange Is the New Black and American Pie, and playwright Leslye Headland. The first episode focuses on a birthday girl who keeps dying, only to be dragged back to the same birthday party. It’s an unusual premise likely to fit in with Netflix favourites like Black Mirror. Russian Doll premiered on Netflix on 1 February 209.
Stranger Things 3
There’s no official trailer out yet but Stranger Things fans are already starting to piece together the plot for season three, with the titles being released. Stranger Things 3 is set in 1985 and is likely to continue the homage to Stephen King and ‘80s thrillers. What is clear is that Eleven, Mike, Will, Dustan, Lucas and Max will return, with the Duffer brothers set to take the young characters through both a physical and emotional journey. A new demon, demo-rats, looks like it will emerge while the Shadow Monster is also sure to make a return. Stranger Things 3 premiers on Netflix on 4 July 2019 in New Zealand, as well as the US.
Like Netflix, Lightbox is no stranger to New Zealand audiences but it will continue to expand its offerings. In 2019, Lightbox subscribers will continue to be able to watch TV shows for free but will still have to pay for blockbuster movies.
High Road season 2
High Road is a Lightbox original series grabbing a cult following in New Zealand, and the second season is sure to add to that. High Road follows the story of wayward ageing rocker, Terry Huffer, played by Mark Mitchinson. Huffer gives up his Rockstar life and moves to Piha to reconnect with his long-lost daughter, setting up a caravan radio station and attracting plenty of strife from the local community. The second season of this original Kiwi comedy premiers on Lightbox on 25 February 2019.
A Star is Born
Bradley Cooper produces, directs and stars in this musical romantic film, which also stars Lady Gaga. A Star is Born is critically acclaimed and picked up a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. It also grossed over $417 million worldwide at the box office. For those who haven’t yet seen it, you will be able to play A Star is Born on Lightbox from 6 February 2019 for $6.99.