Does Release on Both Disney+, Hulu for New Movie ‘Flamin’ Hot’ Indicate Disney Is Ready to Sell Hulu?
The hottest story never told is about to get its moment in the sun. According to an exclusive report from Deadline, Eva Longoria’s directorial debut “Flamin' Hot” will be released to streaming on Disney+ and Hulu simultaneously this summer. This will be the first time any content has been initially released on both Disney streamers at the same time.
“Flamin’ Hot” is based on the true story of Richard Montañez, a janitor working at Frito-Lay in the early 1990s. Montañez noted the lack of offerings from the company geared specifically toward Latino customers and gave executives his solution: the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto. The story behind the creation of this brightly-colored snack has become controversial over the years, and this film will attempt to shine a light on the real events behind its creation.
“I’m so excited for the world to see ‘Flamin’ Hot’ on these two streaming platforms making this universal, inspirational story accessible to an even wider audience,” Longoria said. “Now everyone can celebrate the joy, power and heart of this film that also happens to uplift Latinos both in front of and behind the camera.”
The film debuted on March 11 at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, and it will bypass movie theaters to head directly to streaming on both Disney+ and Hulu on Friday, June 9.
What can this historic, simultaneous debut tell us about Disney’s future plans for Hulu? The general entertainment service is facing uncertainty as Disney mulls its options. The House of Mouse has a contractual agreement with Comcast in which it can buy the 33% share of Hulu that it does not currently own before the end of 2024, but Disney CEO Bob Iger has recently indicated that his company will be pulling back on general entertainment to focus on more profitable streaming content; Hulu’s entire business is general entertainment.
That pullback could include a sale of the 67% of Hulu that Disney currently owns. The release of “Flamin’ Hot” on Disney+ and Hulu could have any number of reasons behind it, but at the very least it seems to indicate that Disney is trying to de-emphasize Hulu. At first glance, “Flamin’ Hot” is a perfect fit for Hulu, which already carries biographical dramas like “Welcome to Chippendales” and “Pam and Tommy.” While “Flamin’ Hot” won’t feature the same kind of raunchy content as those series, it feels nevertheless like an odd fit for Disney+.
If Disney is trying to de-emphasize Hulu, what is its endgame? It could be attempting to devalue Hulu a bit, in order to make it cheaper to acquire from Comcast. The contract between the two sides sets a minimum valuation of $27.5 billion for Hulu — so Comcast’s stake would be at least $9.17 billion — but the two sides have sparred publicly before over how much more a one-third stake in Hulu would fetch on the open market.
The other most likely possibility is that Disney really is looking to sell Hulu, and this is the first step toward acclimating users to the idea. During the company’s quarterly earnings call in February, Iger used the word “aggressive” several times regarding Disney’s plans to curtail its general entertainment offerings; a sale of Hulu would certainly qualify as an aggressive measure.
“General entertainment is generally undifferentiated as opposed to our core franchises and our brands which because of their differentiation and their quality have delivered higher returns for us over the years,” the CEO said. “So we think we have an opportunity to, through more aggressive curation, to reduce some of our costs in the general entertainment side and in general, in volume.”
More time is needed to get clarity on Disney’s ultimate goals for Hulu, but the simultaneous release of “Flamin’ Hot” on Disney+ provides a tantalizing hint. Will Disney sell, or is it trying to lower the cost so it can finally become the sole owner of Hulu at a price it can afford?
Disney+ is a video streaming service with over 13,000 series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, The Muppets, and more. It is available in 61 countries and 21 languages. It is notable for its popular original series like “The Mandalorian,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Loki,” “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” and “Andor.”
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Hulu is a video streaming service that gives access to thousands of full seasons of exclusive series, hit movies, kids shows, and Hulu Originals like “Only Murders in the Building,” and “The Handmaid's Tale.”
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The service has a Limited Commercials plan for $7.99 a month, or you can upgrade to their No Ads plan for $14.99 a month. For $69.99 a month, you can get Hulu Live TV from major cable channels, live locals and regional sports networks.