Disney has launched a new branded section within its streaming platform Disney+. It’s called Star, and it rolls out Feb. 23 in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and parts of Europe, with more countries ahead.
Star sits within the streaming platform next to the branded tiles for Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic. It features 75 TV series, 280 movies, and originals (kind of) of more “grown-up” content than you’ll find in the other sections of Disney+. It’s all stuff to fit in between Mandalorian seasons and WandaVision episodes.
If you’re in the U.S., this might not be very exciting news, as Star won’t be coming to Disney+ there (you have Hulu, don’t stress). But if you’re in one of the countries where Star is landing, here’s everything you need to know.
At launch, Star’s sizable offering of TV shows and movies comes from Disney Television Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Studios, 20th Century Television, FX Productions, Freeform, and other studios, as well as a few Star “originals” (more on that later).
There’s content from Disney-owned Hulu on the service in the UK and Europe, a big win for folks outside the U.S. who can’t access that streaming platform. Highlights include Hulu hits like the Love, Simon spin-off series Love, Victor; Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland’s animated show Solar Opposites; and the drama series Helstrom alongside ABC’s crime thriller from Big Little Lies series creator David E. Kelley, Big Sky.
You’ll also find beloved FX and ABC box set series like Atlanta, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and The X-Files, plus a host of classic action, comedy, thriller, horror, and romance movies you’d forgotten about (remember Baz Lurhmann’s Australia? Or the movie Phone Booth?).
TV shows and movies will be added regularly, with upcoming additions including Krista Vernoff’s Erin Brockovich-inspired series Rebel; FX’s sci-fi series adaptation Y: The Last Man; and Freeform’s 2020 pandemic-filmed series Love in the Time of Corona.
What kind of original programming is there?
While Disney+ is advertising the service as including “Star Originals,” they aren’t exactly that at launch. Love, Victor and Solar Opposites, for instance, are both Hulu shows, but as Disney owns Hulu, they’re technically being classified as “Star Originals.” Basically, they’re part of the Disney family, but they’ve not been specifically produced for the Star platform.
However, that’s not always going to be the case. Disney says it remains committed to developing local content for the whole platform, including Star, and “will bring an array of locally produced Originals in regions where available.” Disney has announced 10 new originals for Disney+, with projects confirmed in France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands — some as Star Originals, including Oussekine, a French miniseries examining the death of student Malik Oussekine, who was arrested after mass student protests in Paris. Not quite the Disney content you were expecting.
Where is it available?
Star is available on Disney+ now in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and parts of Europe including Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland. As announced in December, Star is coming to Japan and South Korea later in 2021, and in Latin America, Star+ will launch as a standalone app in June.
What’s the interface like?
As Star functions as its own app within the Disney+ platform, it looks exactly the same as the interface on the homepage and that within the Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic apps.
Like all streaming service interfaces, the content is separated into themes. Once you’ve clicked through to Star from the homepage, you’ll find curated themes like adult animation, critically acclaimed watches, romantic movies, drama series, comedy series, and cult classics. This content, as noted, is much more grown-up than some of Disney+’s other sections. In fact, the whole interface looks less Disney-fied and more like that of competitors like Netflix, NOWTV, or Prime Video.
After clicking on a selection, you can hit play, add something to your watchlist for later, or start a GroupWatch to view with friends, as with any Disney+ title.
This seems like pretty “grown-up” content. What about the kids?
To keep younger viewers (who may be old enough to watch Frozen but not Sons of Anarchy) from wandering into the Star section, parents can use the Disney+ parental controls. Launched globally on Feb. 23, these allow you to apply different access settings to individual profiles based on content ratings and your child’s age. Only the subscriber (that’s you with the credit card and the login details) will be asked if they want to opt in to access mature content, which changes the content rating from 14+ to 18+ on their profile. You can also add a PIN to lock profiles with access to mature content, if, say, your kids are super savvy with streaming services.
What does it cost?
Star is included in Disney+ membership. For one example, in the UK, Disney+ costs £7.99/month or £79.90/annually, which is similar but not identical to the fee in other markets. However, Disney+ will see a worldwide price increase on Aug. 23, 2021, so expect a new monthly price after that. If you have an annual membership, the price won’t change until your next renewal after that date.
Is there a free trial?
Much to the chagrin of many, Disney no longer offers free trials. Remember, they went out the window with the arrival of Hamilton and Frozen 2 in the same weekend. Let it go.
Where can I watch it?
Star is located within the Disney+ app, which can be streamed on most devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops, as well as computers, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and TV streaming devices including Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TV.
Is it worth it?
As one of the only places where audiences outside the U.S. will be able to stream Hulu content, it’s a good option. As far as the rest of the content goes, it depends what you’re after. There are always alternative platform options for each show — for example, in the UK, you can stream all of The X-Files or Scandal on Prime Video, or stream Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. But Star is streaming a bunch of Wes Anderson films, which are usually only available to rent or buy from entertainment platforms. So there’s that.
If you’re sick of paying for multiple streaming services to suit the needs of your whole household, and if you’re getting a lot out of Disney+ (and are looking forward to much more Marvel and Star Wars content), it might be a good option to enjoy some cult classic movies and Hulu TV between High School Musical singalongs. We can have it all.