Disney Plus increases subscription price for first time in US

The Walt Disney Company is upping the subscription price of its 16-month old streaming service, Disney+ on Friday by $1.

Consumers will have to pay $7.99 a month or $80 per year.

This price hike, announced last December, is the first increase for the streaming service, which surpassed 100 million subscribers this month.

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Over the next few years, Disney is planning to premiere directly on Disney+ not just an armada of "Star Wars" and Marvel series but 15 live-action, Pixar and animated series, and 15 live-action, Pixar and animated movies.

"Black Widow" -- now long past its original May 2020 premiere was postponed due to the pandemic and the closing of movie theaters -- had been set to kick off this summer's movie season on May 7. It will instead premiere on July 9th in theaters and on Disney+ which will carry a $30 early-access fee.

For theaters, which are beginning to reopen after punishing months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the announcement was a blow to hopes of an imminent recovery. While bigger and bigger films have turned to streaming and premium-on-demand in recent months, Marvel movies are Hollywood’s most bankable box-office behemoths.

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This week, the company overhauled its upcoming film release plans, postponing some of its biggest films and shifting Marvel’s "Black Widow," among other titles, to Disney+ the same time they arrive in theaters.

Disney will instead launch its summer with "Cruella" on its previously scheduled date, May 28. The "101 Dalmatians" spinoff with Emma Stone in the title role will also premiere in both theaters and on Disney+ for $30 — the same hybrid approach the studio took with the recent release of "Raya and the Last Dragon."

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The switch for "Black Widow and "Cruella" reflects Disney's "focus on providing consumer choice and serving the evolving preferences of audiences," Kareem Daniel, Disney’s distribution chief said on Tuesday.

Noting the recovery from the pandemic, Daniel added that Disney "will continue to employ the best options to deliver The Walt Disney Company’s unparalleled storytelling to fans and families around the world."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read updates at FOXBusiness.com.