Disney is taking some heat following news yesterday that it will be removing dozens of titles from its Disney+ and Hulu streaming services on May 26, including some LGBTQ+-themed content.
On the list is Howard, the 2018 documentary film about the brilliant lyricist Howard Ashman, a gay man, who collaborated with composer Alan Menken on soundtracks for several Disney animated films including Beauty and the Beast, Under the Season, Friend Like Me and The Little Mermaid. As some have pointed out on social media, the removal of Howard is particularly noteworthy and upsetting as it comes days before release of the live-action The Little Mermaid, starring Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King, and also on the eve of LGBTQ Pride Month. Ashman died in 1991.
One commenter wrote, “Did you enjoy Disney’s The Little Mermaid in theaters? Then come to Disney+ where we spit on the grave of the man responsible for it by removing the excellent documentary film HOWARD” I am paralyzed with fury right now.”
Another wrote: “Disney+ is removing Howard, the documentary about the man who literally saved that company, as well as their only real acknowledgment of a queer figurehead within the studio, right before Pride month. It’s time for Gay Wrath.”
Another Disney series which is being pulled from the service, Willow, also has an LGBTQ+ focus. One commenter wrote: “Another disturbing aspect here with the removal of #Willow, it’s one of their few LGBTQ+ projects. Certainly sends the wrong kind of message in the wake of Disney’s fight with DeSantis and anti-LGBTQ+ politics. Feels icky they’re removing it and sort caves to these bigots.”
The move, which comes with a content impairment charge of $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion, was announced during the recent Disney earnings call on May 10. The nearly 60 affected titles that have emerged consist largely of short-lived original series, direct-to-streaming movies and specials.
“We are in the process of reviewing the content on our DTC services to align with the strategic changes in our approach to content curation,” CFO Christine McCarthy said. At the time, no details were provided on the content that would be removed.
Deadline has reached out to GLAAD for comment on the removals.