In a cost-cutting move, The Walt Disney Company is removing an expansive list of content from Disney+ and Hulu. The removal of series like Turner & Hooch, Willow, and Mighty Ducks: Game Changers did not go over well with Disney+ users who were still upset by the series cancelations. News of the impending removal of the 2018 documentary Howard sparked so much backlash that Disney backtracked on their previous decision and is now keeping the title on Disney+.
Howard chronicles the life of Howard Ashman, a songwriter responsible for songs in Little Shop of Horrors, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Ashman, who is largely credited as a leader in Disney’s Renaissance, was a gay man who lost his battle with AIDS in 1991 when he was only 40 years old. With Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid premiere just a week away and LGBTQ+ Pride Month commencing June 1, many questioned Disney’s timing and commitment to the LGBTQ community when reports of Howard’s removal surfaced. Today, though, Disney+ confirmed the film would remain on the streamer.
Some of the titles still scheduled for removal on May 26 include Disney+’s The World According to Jeff Goldblum, Just Beyond, Diary of a Future President Cheaper by the Dozen, and The Mysterious Benedict Society and Hulu’s Y: The Last Man, Dollface, The Hot Zone, Pistol, The Quest, and Little Demon. According to Deadline, the move comes with a content impairment charge of $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion, a substantial write-off that will make Disney’s streaming service more profitable. It remains to be seen if any other changes will be made to the pending list, as a rep told Deadline: “The list of titles coming off of Hulu and Disney+ next week is still being finalized.”
Howard Ashman’s Legacy Lives On
Howard, written and directed by Don Hahn, follows Ashman’s life from a boy in Baltimore to his untimely death in 1991. The film premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was released in limited theaters later that year. In 2020, the film was released on Disney+ and has received largely favorable reviews.
Ashman is considered a key figure in Disney’s Renaissance, marked by The Little Mermaid’s 1989 debut and continuing into the late 1990s. During that time, Walt Disney Feature Animation continued to create many well-received features, including The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tarzan.
In his work on the Disney films The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast, Ashman collaborated with composer Alan Menken. While working on The Little Mermaid, Ashman pitched the idea of creating a musical adaptation of Aladdin. Once picked up, he and Menken wrote songs for the film. He then began working on Beauty and the Beast, but, unfortunately, would not live to see the finished product. The film premiered months after his death and was dedicated to his memory.
Throughout his career, Ashman earned seven Academy Award nominations, six for Disney films; he earned two awards for his work on Beauty and the Beast‘s eponymous song and The Little Mermaid‘s Under the Sea.
This story originally appeared on Movieweb