This Beloved Disney Movie Is Coming to Streaming For the First Time Ever
The petitions worked: Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella is coming to Disney+.
With the launch of the streaming service Disney+ in 2019, many movies and shows from Disney days past were suddenly made easily accessible. But its catalog isn't exhaustive. And fans of a certain live-action musical from the '90s were particularly disappointed to find that it wasn't yet there. In fact, it wasn't streaming anywhere. But dry your eyes and get ready to sing along, because Disney+ just announced that the 1997 TV movie Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (yep, the one with Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston) is finally coming to streaming for the first time ever. Read on for the details, and for more flicks from the House of Mouse, we're Ranking Every Disney Live-Action Remake, From Worst Reviewed to Best.
This version of Cinderella has been notoriously hard to find.
The TV movie with original songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II first aired on ABC as part of The Wonderful World of Disney series. The next year, it was released on VHS and in 2003, it came out on DVD. But until now, it hasn't streamed anywhere, not even for a rental or purchase fee. As Vulture notes, fans were so desperate to see this version of the fairytale again that they petitioned Disney to make it available on Disney+.
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Part of the reason it's so treasured is its predominantly non-white cast.
Unlike the 1957 version starring Julie Andrews and the 1965 version with Lesley Ann Warren, this Cinderella is cast almost entirely with people of color. R&B star and actor Norwood plays Cinderella; Houston, who also produced the movie, is her fairy godmother; the prince is played by Paolo Montalbán, who's of Filipino heritage; and many supporting and ensemble roles are also played by non-white actors.
According to Shondaland's 2017 oral history of the movie, it was in development for a few years, with Houston originally attached to the titular role. Eventually, she shifted to the godmother and then personally selected Norwood to play Cinderella, which the rest of the creative team was thrilled with.
Executive producer Craig Zadan told the publication that there was some pushback against centering the movie around a Black princess.
"There was an executive at Disney—who will remain nameless—and he was very nervous about a Black Cinderella," he remembered. "He loved the idea of Whitney being the Black fairy godmother, but he came up to us and said, 'Well, if you're coming up with someone like Brandy as Cinderella, why can't you go get Jewel instead, and have a white Cinderella and a Black Fairy Godmother. It'll still be multicultural.' I think he was saying to himself, 'Who's a white version of Brandy?' We said absolutely not."
For more reckoning with the past, here are 10 Disney Classics That Have Been Called Out for Racism.
You don't have long to wait to finally stream this Cinderella at home.
On Feb. 4, Disney announced the happy news that the musical is coming to its streaming service—and soon. It'll be making its streaming debut on Feb. 12 and no less fitting a time than "the stroke of midnight," per the press release.
The company also noted that the movie will be a part of the service's "Celebrate Black Stories" collection.
To see how more Disney classics stack up, check out our Ranking of Every Disney Animated Movie, From Worst Reviewed to Best
The stars were eager to share their excitement.
Norwood was a guest on the Feb. 4 episode of The View, where she shared the news with Whoopi Goldberg and the audience. Goldberg also has a vested interest in a bigger platform for Cinderella, since she plays Queen Constantina in the film. "It's pretty remarkable that people have been begging for Cinderella to be rereleased for almost 24 years," she noted.
On The View, Norwood thanked the fans for advocating for the movie, and Montalbán posted a similar sentiment on Instagram, saying, "Thank you to all the R&H's Cinderella fans out there that made it possible!"
For more Disney throwbacks, check out The Biggest Disney Channel Stars, Then and Now.