Hamilton, the biggest theater phenomenon of the last decade, will become one of the biggest streaming releases of all time when it lands on Disney Plus next weekend.
Hamilton has become an iconic piece of theater, and this is the first time you’ll be able to experience outside of that environment. What Disney Plus is offering is a live recording of the play featuring the original 2015 cast.
Disney paid $75 million for the rights to the musical, and originally planned to release it in theaters in 2021. Now, though, it's releasing straight onto Disney Plus instead. Although Disney hasn’t confirmed this was a reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, this will give many of us around the world something else to focus on in this turbulent time.
We’ve put together a full guide so you can make the most of your first – or your 85th – viewing of the musical online. This won’t be anything like seeing the production in the flesh, but hopefully with some of our tips below you'll make the most of its transition to the small screen.
1. Subscribe to Disney Plus ahead of time
The worst part of Hamilton coming to Disney Plus? You’re no longer able to watch it for free. Disney has, perhaps quite smartly, cancelled its 7-day free trial offer that we’ve seen on new sign-ups since the service began last year.
That means you’re going to have to pay for Disney Plus to be able to watch Hamilton, but it only costs $6.99 / £5.99 / AU$8.99 a month if you’re looking for the shortest contract possible, which is less than the price of seeing a movie (back when that was a thing you could do). If you think you’ll be watching Hamilton consistently for a year – or you know, maybe Star Wars or something – you may want to spend $69.99 in the US, £59.99 in the UK, and AU$89.99.
2. Get the best tech setup possible
As good as Hamilton is, watching on an old LCD television with duct–taped speakers won’t show off the award–winning musical at its best.
The musical will be streamed in 4K Ultra HD, meaning you’ll want a 4K television to see all that painstaking costume work and subtle facial expressions you’d otherwise only get in the front row of the theater. A set with good motion control would be best here, too – something Sony TVs are generally great at – given the fast-moving dance routines and riotous choreography throughout the musical.
Of course, the most important thing to consider, really, is the audio. Your laptop speakers likely won’t get the full effect of cast voices and backing tracks onstage, while most smart TVs (with some notable exceptions) tend to come with limited built–in audio, being a secondary consideration after picture quality. This is especially important for a filmed musical, which would be providing authentic surround sound if you were, you know, watching it in person.
We don’t expect everyone to afford a TV with the extensive driver array of the Q950TS QLED – so if you’re worried about getting the full force of the music, check out our guides to the best soundbars to plug into your television, or check out our favorite model below:
3. Watch the trailer again
It's a minute long, and it will get you excited.
4. Work out when it lands for you
July 3 is the big day ahead of Independence Day in the US, but what exact time with the film land for you? That depends on where you live in the world, and luckily Lin–Manuel Miranda has now confirmed the exact timing for you.
It’ll land on Disney Plus at the exact same time for everyone, which is midnight PST on July 3. That’s 3AM EST / 8AM BST / 6PM AEDT, so you can be sure to log onto Disney Plus and start watching right away.
5. Learn where all the swearing is
There are three 'f*cks' in the original Broadway run of Hamilton, and as Disney wanted this to be rated PG-13 they’ve removed two. That may frustrate some fans, but having more than one utterance of the F word ensures an R rating in the US and restricts children from being able to see this educational masterpiece.
If you want the full experience, Miranda recommends knowing where those f*cks are meant to be so you can sing along over the top.
Want to know where you’ll want to be screaming f*ck over the top? The swears are in 'Yorktown' and that iconic use of the the word in 'Washington On Your Side' when Hamilton is… frustrated.
6. Know you can watch it over and over again
In that same post about the timing for Hamilton landing on Disney Plus, Miranda has confirmed that it’ll be available on Disney Plus for the foreseeable future.
Obviously they can’t confirm it’ll be there for the rest of time, but Miranda said “you’ll just have it” rather than it being a timed release.
That means you should be able to watch the show over and over again to your heart's content. Or at least until your Disney Plus subscription runs out.
7. Sit back and listen to the soundtrack
If you want to familiarize yourself with the songs ahead of time, or just get a taste of what you’re in for, it’s well worth listening to the soundtrack. You can find Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon Music streaming services, so there’s really no excuse not to give yourself a taste. We’re sure you’ll be… satisfied.