Disney+ is a powerful streaming service simply for having all things Disney available to stream, but slowly the service is adding even more original content that, while we might not immediately associate with the Disney brand, is making Disney+ a must own product. July was already going to be a huge month with the debut of the filmed production of the Broadway musical Hamilton set to arrive in only a few days. But now July is going to end just as big, with a new film arriving July 31, Black is King, written, produced and directed by Beyonce. And it looks amazing.
Black is King is a new movie that is being called a “visual album” and based on the brand new teaser, it’s certainly difficult to categorize. The trailer is full of images, ideas and concepts. It doesn’t exactly give us a story, at least not in the traditional sense, but what we get is certainly powerful. It needs to be seen to be understood.
There is a connection to Disney in Black is King which helps explain why this particular film is coming to Disney+, as the film is inspired by Beyonce’s album The Lion King: The Gift. The album include original music from both Beyonce and others, as well as music built around parts of the film itself. This film will re-imagine the lessons of the album in a new way, honoring the voyages of Black families throughout time.
July marks the one year anniversary of the remake of The Lion King which included Beyonce in the role of Nala. According to Disney, Black is King as been in production for the last year.
Black is King looks absolutely stunning visually. Between these images and the powerful music of The Lion King: The Gift, the film is certain to be quite the experience. And while the movie has clearly been in production for some time, it’s arrival now couldn’t be more necessary.
Between Black is King and Hamilton we have a pair of musical films from diverse creators that aren’t exactly the first thing you think of when you think of Disney or the Disney+ streaming service. While they’re not outside of the “family friendly” home that Disney has occupied from the beginning, they are a bit more grown up, and will certainly appeal to a potentially different audience than many Disney products. Disney+ was always going to be attractive to the core Disney fan audience, but by adding content like this the service has the potential to draw in a much larger audience. Of course, for that to work long term, we will need to see even more additions to Disney+ that look like this, but that’s not a bad thing.
So I guess the question now is how many times are you going to watch Hamilton before Black is King arrives on Disney+ on July 31? And what other surprises might we be getting on the still fresh streaming service in the months to come?
Dirk (or Stephen, depending on who’s asking) is a Northern California native currently living outside Sacramento, CA. After more than a dozen years working in the consumer electronics industry he had a mid-life crisis and, instead of buying a sports car, he changed careers and became an entertainment writer. He covers film for CinemaBlend, which means he hasn’t had the time for a TV show in years.
- Dirk Libbey