With the world turned upside down by the worldwide pandemic, Disney has decided to push its release of Hamilton from October 2021 to a very appropriate July 3 release on Disney+. Disney Chairman Bob Iger and Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared this morning on Good Morning America to share the news. In short, Disney is not throwing away their shot.
The filmed version includes original Broadway cast members Miranda as the eponymous "ten-dollar founding father without a father," Leslie Odom, Jr. as his antagonist Aaron Burr, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Phillipa Soo as sisters Angelica and Eliza Schuyler, Jonathan Groff as King George, Christopher Jackson as George Washington, and Daveed Diggs in the dual role as Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson. Jasmine Cephas Jones also plays Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, Okieriete Onaodowan is Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, and Anthony Ramos plays John Laurens/Philip Hamilton. Filmed over three performances in the Richard Rogers Theater on Broadway in June 2016, the film will be as close to capturing of a live stage performance as possible, directed by the original stage director Tommy Kail.
"I'm so proud of how beautifully Tommy Kail has brought Hamilton to the screen. He's given everyone who watches this film the best seat in the house," said Lin-Manuel Miranda. "I'm so grateful to Disney and Disney+ for reimagining and moving up our release to July 4th weekend of this year, in light of the world turning upside down. I'm so grateful to all the fans who asked for this, and I'm so glad that we're able to make it happen. I'm so proud of this show. I can't wait for you to see it."
This is a great and smart move by Disney, who purchased the film for distribution earlier this year in an almost complete form. With theaters and theme parks closed, but its streaming service providing a boost in the arm of the venerable, horizontally-integrated entertainment giant, this move to distribute Hamilton to hungry fans should seem almost inevitable. Disney has also seen a giant cultural success during the pandemic with the release of its documentary The Last Dance about Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, so releasing Hamilton direct to streaming will no doubt dominate the cultural conversation this July 4th.
So for the rest of you unsure of what the fuss is over Hamilton and asking "What'd I miss?" the musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, drawn from the biography by Ron Chernow. Told by a multi-ethnic cast and music that draws from hip hop, R&B, ballads, and the best of Broadway, it won multiple Tony Awards and cemented Miranda's place as a cultural icon, who blew us all away.