Disney Creators Speak out Over Company Removing Film and TV Shows on Disney+ and Hulu

June 6, 2023 ,

The Walt Disney Company is taking a $1.5 billion write-down due to removing more than 70 film and TV shows from Disney+ and Hulu. According to creatives from the company, they say “it’s a whole climate of devaluing.”

According to a recent report by The Hollywood Reporter, creatives from The Walt Disney Company who worked on TV shows and films made for the company’s streaming services of Hulu and Disney+ say they had no idea the content they worked on would just mysteriously be removed from the streaming services.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Eliza Skinner says she had no idea her Disney+ series “Earth to Ned” would be removed from the platform until a text in mid-may to the show’s writers group chat shared an article about Disney removing more than 70 films and series from its streaming services that month.

Among the disappearing titles was a comedic talk show, which Skinner served as a head writer on. The show centered on an alien welcoming celebrities to his spaceship.

Additionally, Skinner says that due to its classification as a streaming variety series, writers and performers were not receiving residuals from Disney. Skinner says the show’s team had heard rumors this happened due to Disney’s tax bill.

As frustrating as it is that the company removed the series, which existed exclusively on the streaming service, it also created the problem that Skinner is unable to use the series to land future gigs in the industry as she doesn’t own a physical copy of the show to use as a calling card.

“It’s part of this overall mindset of the value of art and creativity that like, ‘Wow, you spent all this time on this, then you at least deserve a phone call,’” Skinner, who has been picketing with fellow Writers Guild members, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “You at least deserve to understand a little bit what’s happening with your work. But it’s a whole climate of devaluing.”

During a May 10 earnings call, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy announced that it would be “removing certain content from streaming platforms.” The company, which has been undergoing rolling layoffs, disclosed in a securities filing on June 2 that it would take a $1.5 billion write-down from the axed programming. More content is expected to disappear in the third quarter.

“I would certainly just be curious to know more about what influenced the decision,” says filmmaker Ashley Avis, whose 2020 Disney+ feature, Black Beauty, which adapted the classic novel and featured the voice of Kate Winslet, was part of the axing. “It’s tough as an artist to try to know where to navigate.”

Among the titles permanently pulled May 26 from Disney-owned platforms Disney+ and Hulu were a mixture of shows ranging from “Y: The Last Man,” “Dollface and The Mysterious Benedict Society” to series based on the films “Willow,” “Mighty Ducks” and “Turner & Hooch.” Also gone are such features as Kenneth Branagh’s “Artemis Fowl” and last year’s “Cheaper by the Dozen” remake.

“All things being equal, most people would prefer to work on a network or cable show as opposed to a streaming show because the rates are better, and you’re more likely to see residuals,” says Nick Wiger, an “Earth to Ned” writer. “But in terms of jobs that are offered, it’s like, ‘I got this streaming job, or I could not work,’ and that’s a calculation a lot of people are making.”

What are your thoughts on Disney cutting such extreme amount of content from its streaming services and the toll it’s taking on writers and content creators? Let us know in the comments! 

Sean Sposato
The Main Street Mouse