Disney+ Series ‘The Mandalorian’ Launches New Era of Filmmaking
Baby Yoda! The adorable Star Wars creature – perfect for internet GIFs and holiday presents – is just one of many things that viewers of new Disney+ series The Mandalorian are losing their minds over.
But viewers love more than just the little green guy, who is not the same Yoda who died at the end of Return of the Jedi (but presumably in the same species). The Mandalorian, which began streaming on new service Disney+ on November 12, has become an instant hit. 97% of Google users liked the show, which also earned an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and 9.1/10 on IMDB.
Since Disney is using The Mandalorian to get users to sign up for Disney+ (Verizon users can get one year free, by the way!), it’s shocking that Baby Yoda was kept a secret.
“I have to thank Disney and Lucasfilm, because the way the cat usually gets out of the bag with that stuff is merchandising and toy catalogs and things like that,” director Jon Favreau said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. “So they really back us up. We really wanted to have it be that you had to watch it yourself, so that every time you watch the show, there are new twists and secrets that come out. That requires a lot of restraint from the people who are footing the bill, saying they’re gonna hold back on certain things so that the public doesn’t know ahead of time. Part of that was holding back on some of the merchandise and holding back on some of the characters.”
Disney’s magical combination of building anticipation while also keeping certain details a secret is a perfect model that will undoubtedly influence other studios and streamers.
Disney+ has chosen to release episodes of The Mandalorian weekly instead of all at once, which may also help to keep the public conversation going. Similarly, Apple TV is using a once-a-week model for episodes of its flagship series Morning Show (starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon). However, Apple TV dropped episodes of its half-hour show Dickinson all at once.
The Los Angeles Times reports that “none of the streaming services set to debut between now and next spring will be exclusively adopting the binge model, and veterans like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have tried different release strategies themselves.”
Perhaps companies are trying to combat against viewers who would pay for just one month of a streaming service (or get a free trial), watch an entire show at once and then cancel. Given that The Mandalorian was shot with a $100 million budget (around $12.5 million per episode), Disney is counting on fans keeping their subscriptions. But that figure is actually less per episode than The Morning Show ($15 million each) and Game of Thrones ($15 million each).
The lesson from The Mandalorian and other groundbreaking streaming shows is that you have to do whatever you have to do to get viewers talking – and keep them talking. Now that there are over 500 scripted TV shows currently airing, and 25 different streaming services (according to Consumer Reports‘s latest count), it’s painfully easy for viewers to ignore or forget you.
Disney+ also knows that viewers probably won’t keep a streaming service subscription just watch one show. The company is also sinking a ton of money into its Marvel shows still in development, spending $25 million per episode on Hawkeye, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision.
But for a show that breaks through the noise – like The Mandalorian – the conversation can keep going (and keep attracting new fans). Even beyond usual recaps, sites are reviewing individual episodes instead of the whole season.
It also doesn’t hurt that Baby Yoda has melted our hearts just in time for the holiday shopping season!
What do you think of The Mandalorian? Let us know in the comments below!