Why Disney is bringing “Hamilton” to movie theaters next year

Shot taken.
Shot taken.
Image: AP Photo/Carlos Giusti
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At the end of the Broadway musical Hamilton, the characters reflect on their legacies, wondering who will tell their stories when they’re gone. The answer, of course, is the Walt Disney Company.

Disney announced today that it will release Hamilton movie in theaters on Oct. 15, 2021. The movie will not be a live-action film adaptation of the musical (unlike the 2019 Cats movie). Rather, Disney is marketing the film as a “live capture” featuring the show’s original performers, including creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda.

That’s a fancy way of saying they filmed an old performance of Hamilton and will show that in movie theaters.

The movie will likely feature elaborate lighting and camerawork to make it appear more cinematic on the big screen. Hamilton director Thomas Kail also directed the recording, which was filmed some time in 2016 when the original cast members were still in their roles.

Turning Hamilton into a movie is a no-brainer for Disney. With it,  the Mouse House accomplishes a number of things: It gets an easy, relatively inexpensive piece of content to put on its streaming service, Disney+, next year. More importantly, it gets to stay in the Lin-Manuel Miranda business for the foreseeable future.

Miranda wrote music for Disney’s Moana and appeared in the studio’s 2018 film Mary Poppins Returns. Disney has been courting a close relationship with Miranda for years—perhaps with the specific goal of making the Disney entertainment ecosystem the trusted home for all future Hamilton-related content. (Warner Bros. will release a live-action adaptation of Miranda’s first musical, In the Heights, in June.)

Employing a variety of musical styles including pop and hip hop, the hit Tony-winning show tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, the American founding father who greatly influenced the US Constitution and the country’s financial system—before dying in a duel with a political rival, Aaron Burr. Miranda wrote the music and lyrics and starred as the titular politician from the show’s inception in February 2015 until mid-2016. He was applauded for casting black, Asian, and Latinx actors as the founders of the country.

Hamilton is still one of the hottest tickets on Broadway (and everywhere else it goes on tour). Tickets start around $200 and can run as much as $1,000 for premier seats at popular showtimes. The Disney movie will allow viewers who may not be able to afford a Broadway ticket the chance to see a version of the musical with the original cast.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to share this same Broadway experience with millions of people around the world,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.