At the core of the streaming wars is experimentation. As audiences abandon traditional television, various streamers have experimented with how and when to release content; and for a time, the answer was the Netflix model where all episodes dropped at once. But when Disney+ launched in late 2019, it went traditional, releasing series episodes on a weekly basis that quickly became the new gold standard. Now, Marvel Studios is about to break the mold.
Premiering on Wednesday, August 10 on Disney+, I Am Groot is changing the game in several ways. As opposed to a traditional Marvel Studios Disney+ series, I Am Groot is a collection of animated shorts that's surprisingly not MCU canon but rather, as Guardians director James Gunn explained, "canon to themselves."
While this news took fans by surprise, that's not the only way Marvel and the galaxy's favorite Flora Colossus are mixing things up. Apparently, I Am Groot will also adopt a non-traditional Disney+ release drop as well, potentially setting a new precedent for projects and series to come.
Disney+ Adopts New Release Pattern for I Am Groot
This is a first for Marvel Studios on Disney's streaming service given every MCU series so far, including WandaVision, Loki, Moon Knight, and the animated What If...?, have largely kept to the model of releasing episodes weekly.
The news is also shocking given Netflix's recent woes, as well as new praise for the House of Mouse's release pattern in light of the Season 4 debut of Netflix's original binge-watching poster child Stranger Things.
While the paranormal '80s-based show remains successful, it's hard to deny that Disney and Marvel Studios' progressive rollout of their shows has made Wednesdays and/or Fridays anticipated events while also keeping attention and conversation going for weeks as opposed to days.
Still, the I Am Groot decision is a departure in other ways as well, especially since Disney+ has kept to its week-by-week release pattern even with its small, animated projects and shorts.
Much like Groot's solo series, the Toy Story 4 spin-off show, Forky Asks a Question, was also a collection of animated shorts; but the project in its entirety was distributed on the streamer in 2 to 3-minute episodes that aired each Friday.
Why Is Marvel Studios Reverting to the Netflix Model?
Even though Kristen Lepore is serving as the series writer and director as opposed to James Gunn, I Am Groot is still a Marvel Studios project with Vin Diesel reprising his role as the voice of Baby Groot with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, Louis D'Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winderbaum, and Guardians director James Gunn serving as executive producers.
Therefore, the question now is why Marvel and Disney chose to revert to the Netflix model for this series, and what kind of precedent does this set moving forward?
Perhaps, given the fact they're shorts, releasing them in bulk will lead to higher viewership? After all, few MCU fans are likely to prioritize watching a quick clip each and every week; and, since it looks like these Baby Groot tales may be geared toward kids, having them all at once is sure to help with that particular demographic.
But even so, the mold has been broken. The binge model is now a reality on Disney+ courtesy of Marvel Studios.
Now, fans will have to wait and see if the studio intends to use this model again in the future and whether the gamble will pay off.
All episodes of I Am Groot are set to premiere on Wednesday, August 10 on Disney+.