Remember all those headlines a few weeks ago exaggerating and/or mischaracterising BTS’s “hiatus”? LOLOLOL. As I mentioned in my post about V at Paris Fashion Week, I was initially planning on writing a piece about the whole situation and how the media handled it but then shelved it because…well… WHAT BREAK?
Since BTS released that hour-long video celebrating Festa, their anniversary, in which they candidly talked about needing a creative recharge, there’s been no shortage of BTS news – from individual members releasing solo projects to concert announcements (they’ll be performing together in Busan in October as part of the city’s World Expo bid) and more. I am just as overwhelmed now as I’ve always been where keeping up with BTS is concerned. There is just as much homework in their “off-season” as there is during the regular season! It’s like being in summer school!
Anyway, here’s the latest – and it’s a big one. Disney has entered into a content deal with HYBE, BTS’s management company, for global distribution of five major titles, three of which were immediately confirmed. ARMY had seen this coming for a while. Last year on an episode of their variety show, RUN BTS!, producers challenged RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook to dub scenes from three Disney movies: The Lion King, Zootopia, and Toy Story. You can see clips from that episode here. As we know, Disney is extremely proprietary about their IP – BTS would never have been able to do this if there wasn’t official signoff. In addition, when they appeared via video at the Oscars earlier this year it was basically a commercial for Disney as they talked about their love for the movies but only namechecked Disney movies.
Which brings us to now and this partnership. It’s a major get for Disney+. As I have been reporting on for a couple of years now, Netflix has been seeing big gains in the Asia Pacific market for a decade having savvily invested in South Korean creatives well before most major players in the industry. Squid Game, obviously. Sure, Netflix has taken some hits recently but that just makes their Korean investment even more valuable. Netflix’s competitors have seen how Netflix’s Asia Pacific library has contributed to global subscriptions and now they have also been developing strategies to expand into the territory. This is Disney’s goal with BTS – who better to partner with than the biggest band in the world to reach more of an audience?
BTS’s Permission To Dance LA concert from November 2021 will stream on Disney+. The deal also includes a BTS docuseries, BTS Monuments: Beyond the Star, that tracks the rise of the band and will feature interviews with the band members as “they prepare for their second chapter”. What’s really smart is that this won’t be a huge lift for BTS since they already have an extensive archive of behind the scenes footage and they’ve been making docuseries like this for years. The first was called Burn the Stage in 2018. Bring the Soul was released in 2019 followed by Break the Silence in 2020. You can see the theme here with the naming. The point is, they have an established template for these docuseries, and now they just got a huge payday for the work they’ve already been doing.
As for the third project announced so far with the Disney deal – In the Soop: Friendcation – this is a reality series that follows V with his four famous friends (Choi Woo Shik, Park Seo Joon, Park Hyung Sik, and Peakboy) as they go on holiday together. V for sure is the global superstar among them but Choi Woo Shik, Park Seo Joon, and Park Hyung Sik are also pretty high profile in their own right. You know both Woo Shik and Seo Joon from Parasite. Seo Joon is in the upcoming The Marvels. They all come with their own healthy fan following – which, again, is a boost for Disney.
My issue, then, is accessibility. There are some Asia Pacific titles on Disney that aren’t available in all territories. For example, I love Park Hyung Sik; he was in a drama series called Happiness earlier this year that I was obsessed with – and it was about a zombie virus and I don’t normally f-ck with zombies so you can imagine how good this show was. His next project after that was a romantic miniseries called Soundtrack #1 which is a Disney title and available in many other territories but not in North America. Every week I check and they still don’t have the rights, WTF?!
This better not be the case with the BTS content, I’m putting this out there right now. Because if there are some BTS fans left out of BTS programming, I mean, think we all know this by now – Disney will hear about it. Hopefully they’ve figured out their rights issues in advance.