Walt Disney Company is set to launch its Disney Plus Hotstar streaming service in Malaysia from June 1. The platform will boast a significant local content component in addition to the mainstay Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic brands.
The launch is being held in association with Astro, the country’s leading pay-TV platform. Consumers can also stream the service from the company’s website or download an app for mobile devices from the Android and iOS stores.
Direct subscribers can access the service for RM54.90 ($13.35) for three months, while Astro will offer package deals. Each registered account can support two concurrent streams, and the majority of content is available for download on mobile and tablet.
A launch event, held entirely virtually, included guest appearances from Marvel actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan and a walk-through of some of the local content choices.
Presenters did not explain the choice of the Disney Plus Hotstar branding. Hotstar is the name of the highly-successful streaming platform in India that Disney acquired from 21st Century Fox. Disney used the brand for its streaming launch in neighboring country Indonesia in September last year, but opted to use the simpler Disney Plus brand for launch in February in Singapore, another close neighbor.
Disney said that it has signed multi-year content supply agreements with leading Malaysian studios including Skop Productions, Revolution Media Films, Primeworks Studios, WAU Animation, Act 2 Pictures, Les’ Copaque Production and Red Films.
This enables Disney Plus Hotstar to include new Malaysian movies and series at launch or shortly afterwards. Several “will skip theaters and launch straight on the streaming service,” Disney said.
These include “J2: J Retribusi,” from Primeworks, TGV and Infinitus; “Zombitopia” from Skop; and horror picture “Ada Hantu,” starring Hairul Azreen. Another, “Ejen Ali The Movie 2,” will also stream exclusively on the platform after a theatrical run.
Local Primetime drama series such as TV3’s “Single Terlalu Lama” and “Kekasih Hati Mr. Bodyguard” will premiere first at 7 a.m. on the same day as their linear TV telecast, meaning that Disney Plus Hotstar viewers can get a 15 hour jump on non-subscribers.
The platform has also licensed a library full of other Malaysian content including films like “J Revolusi,” Tombiruo,” “KL Special Force,” “Ejen Ali The Movie,” “Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal,” “Munafik,” “Istanbul Aku Datang!,” the Rock franchise (“Rock,” “Rock Oo!,” “Rock Bro!,” and “Rock 4: Rockers Never Dai”), “Talentime, Mukhsin,” “The Kid From The Big Apple 2,” “Vedigundu Pasangge,” “Evolusi KL Drift 1 & 2,” “KL Gangster 1 & 2,” “Gol & Gincu 1 & 2,” “Guang” and “Redha and Roh.” Acquired local series include “Wifi Sebelah Rumah” and “Semanis Senyumanmu.”
Reflecting the country’s multi-ethnic roots, the platform will also host smaller bundles of Indian and Chinese-language titles. This includes Hindi and Tamil language films and series “Thuppakki,” “Pandian Stores,” and “Vishwaroopam 2,” as well as shows brought over from Star Vijay. Chinese films include Hong Kong-made titles “Infernal Affairs,” “Linewalker 2,” and “Ip Man 4”, and mainland Chinese offerings include “The Deer and the Cauldron,” “The Legend of Haolan” and recent Taiwan art house title “Silent Forest.”
The launch presentation made no mention of the Star-brand that is now being made available in some other territories. But some of these titles appear to be part of what Disney described as “a robust catalogue of general entertainment series and films.” They include multiple Oscar-winner “Nomadland,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “The Walking Dead,” “Criminal Minds,” “Fresh off the Boat,” “The Simpsons,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “9-1-1.”
Disney Plus Originals available at launch include “The Mandalorian,” Marvel Studios’ “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” and “Loki.” This is in addition to the latest blockbuster releases and library content, including Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther.” Live-action film adaptations include: “Mulan” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” Disney Animation titles available on the platform will include both “Frozen” films and “Big Hero 6.” Available Pixar titles include: “Soul,” “Coco,” “The Incredibles 2” and “Finding Dory.”
“Launching Disney Plus Hotstar in Malaysia, in collaboration with Astro, is an important milestone for us as we continue expanding our footprint in Southeast Asia,” said David Shin, GM of Walt Disney Company Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. “Malaysians are not only connected, but also extremely tech-savvy and they represent some of Disney’s biggest fans in the region.”
Ahmad Izham Omar, executive director of content and creative at Disney Plus Hotstar in Southeast Asia, said: ”We look forward to continuing our deep-rooted support of Malaysian-made content and shining a well-deserved spotlight on inspiring Malaysian stories, filmmakers and talent.”