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‘Frozen 2’ Will Be on Disney+ Just as Employees Start Working From Home

Ruth Carson

(Bloomberg) -- Parents, get ready to hear a lot of singing.

Walt Disney Co. is making its blockbuster movie “Frozen 2” available on its streaming service Disney+ three months ahead of schedule as the coronavirus outbreak forces employees around the world to work from home.

The Burbank, California-headquartered group will stream the movie beginning March 15 in the U.S. to provide “families with some fun and joy during this challenging period,” according to a company statement.

The decision comes during a difficult time for Disney: the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is rising from Italy to the U.S., forcing mass closures of major entertainment venues including theme parks to curtail infections.

Disney has struggled to find the right programming for Disney+, its most important new business initiative in years. While subscribers of the five-month old streaming service jumped to 28.6 million by early February, it has seen a number of high-profile projects fizzle, including a “Muppets” series with Josh Gad and halting the production of the “Lizzie McGuire” show.

Disney+ saw a big jump in social media and other conversations after its launch, according to Engagement Labs, a market research firm that tracks such data. Weekly impressions for the service have trailed a bit since then and remain only a third of what Netflix generates. The Star Wars-spin off “The Mandalorian” has been the service’s biggest hit.

“For the shows, we only have data for ‘The Mandalorian’ for Disney+, which means it’s the only original show they have that has enough consumer conversations that can be measured in our platform,” Engagement Labs said.

Disney+ Finds Ramping Up New Streaming Service Has Its Minuses

“Frozen 2” may help. The film opened to record worldwide sales for an animated picture last year after netting $358.4 million globally, and will be released on the platform in the U.S. on Sunday, as companies around the world told staff to work from home in a bid to reduce the spread of the coronavirus among employees.

The movie’s messages of “perseverance and the importance of family” are “incredibly relevant during this time,” Chief Executive Bob Chapek said in the statement.

The firm will roll out “Frozen 2” in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday, March 17.

(Adds market research in sixth paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruth Carson in Singapore at rliew6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tan Hwee Ann at hatan@bloomberg.net, James Ludden

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