Today, Disney is releasing its new live-action movie, “Young Woman And The Sea,” in cinemas. It is the extraordinary true story of Trudy Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel successfully.

Daisy Ridley stars as the accomplished swimmer who was born to immigrant parents in New York City in 1905. Through the steadfast support of her older sister and supportive trainers, she overcame adversity and the animosity of a patriarchal society to rise through the ranks of the Olympic swimming team and complete the staggering achievement – a 21-mile trek from France to England.

Unlike most major theatrical releases, this film is getting the special engagement treatment, which Disney hasn’t done in over ten years. This basically means that if the film does well over the first two weeks when it’s only being shown in a limited number of films, they will expand it to more screens.

For many years, Disney would release inspirational movies like “Queen Of Katwe” or “The Finest Hours”, which the company referred to as “brand deposits,” which served the underlying ethos of the Disney brand.  The movies have smaller budgets and modest box office targets,, and it was deemed more important to have these feel-good movies being released by Disney.

But when Disney+ came along, these projects were shifted to being straight to streaming releases, such as “Togo”, “Rise”, and “Safety”. 

Originally, “Young Woman And The Sea” was going to be released directly onto Disney+, but when the movie was going through its test screenings, it was scoring extremely high as those early viewers really enjoyed it.  This feedback resulted in the film’s producer, Jeremy Bruckheimer pushing Disney to release it in cinemas.

Jeremy revealed to The Wrap that “Young Woman And The Sea” was testing more positively than any of the previous releases, which include “The Rock,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” and “Pirates Of The Caribbean.”

“It was the highest-testing movie I’ve ever made.  They said, ‘Wait a second here, you might have something. They reevaluated it, they loved the movie and now they’re getting so many accolades from anybody who sees it, it’s such an emotional story. And it’s also a story about a woman that got lost in time and should be remembered.”

The movie’s director Joachim Rønning, who is currently working on Disney’s “Tron: Ares”, also revealed that it wasn’t that easy to make Disney change its release strategy for “Young Woman And The Sea”, but Jeremy’s history with the company, which includes over thirty movies.

“When you have someone like Jerry Bruckheimer on your team really putting pressure [that makes a difference]. It wasn’t that hard for Disney to go ahead and do a theatrical release, and I respect that process, the algorithms and the cost around it.  But then we made it [to the big screen] and I’m thrilled. It’s such an epic story, and it deserves the big screen.”

With Disney trying to refocus its efforts on theatrical releases to make more money and following the impact of last summer’s strikes causing a slowdown in the number of new movie releases, it might have helped make the decision to release “Young Woman And The Sea” in cinemas more easily.

Roger’s Take:  If “Young Woman And The Sea” turns out to be successful at the box office, we will see more of this in the future and fewer Disney+ Original film releases.  Especially with these lower budget titles, since Disney doesn’t spend a huge amount on making them, nor advertising them, so the box office doesn’t need to be huge to cover the cost of making the movie and releasing it.  Throw in digital sales and rentals, which will probably mean it’s likely to be in profit before it hits Disney+.  Compared to releasing it straight on Disney+, it isn’t going to make any money in reality.  Hopefully, it’s a successful release, and we will see more of this in the future because it opens the door to Disney being more willing to take risks on smaller films more regularly. 

Are you going to be watching “Young Woman And The Sea” in cinemas or waiting for a Disney+ release?  Let me know on social media!

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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