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Nonso Anozie, Lara McDonnell, Josh Gad and Ferdia Shaw in Artemis Fowl

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In response to the ongoing health crisis, Disney’s packed theatrical 2020 calendar has dramatically shifted. Following suit with the other major studios, not every planned release will be available to see with a crowd. Artemis Fowl was the House of Mouse’s first new film to be given an exclusive release on Disney+, and apparently the decision came at the request of Eoin Colfer.

The bestselling author has been waiting for the movie adaptation of his famed series to find audiences since he sold the rights to Disney’s Miramax label in 2000. Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl has been in the wringer for twenty years, between various versions of the film falling through before director Kenneth Branagh took the helm. The live-action fantasy film was initially set to come out last year before the studio pulled it and rescheduled it for this past May

Once the pandemic threatened a chunk of this year’s theatrical releases, Eoin Colfer told Laughing Place he decided to email his Disney contacts to ask that Artemis Fowl hit Disney+ instead of stalling its release yet again. As the author remembers of the news:

When they called me, I was pleased. Would I have liked to attend a premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre wearing my green tuxedo? I had it all planned out.

Eoin Colfer said he was bummed about his decision for a couple days, but quickly got over it, thanks to the satisfaction that the release date for his long-awaited adaptation would not be once again shelved. He was also concerned about the other more high-profile “cartoon-to-live action and Marvel” films in the lineup for Disney to reschedule. He felt his title would be a good choice to go “ahead of the posse, be the first one” to bring straight to homes.

The trend that has held for studios during movie theater closures is bringing family-friendly films to the front for straight-to-video release. Trolls World Tour was the first movie to forgo its theatrical date altogether and hit VOD first, and Warner Bros’ Scoob! followed. Now Disney+ has also announced plans to take The One and Only Ivan right to Disney+ in August too.

Artemis Fowl’s road to Disney+ was not an easy one. When Eoin Colfer first agreed to bring his story to film, he’d just started publishing the series and admitted he never imagined it would take so long. In his words:

I was very naive. I thought well because they tell you everyone is really excited about this, it’s their top priority. So we thought this is gonna be made next year. If you are a young writer in your 30’s and you’re told your book is going to be a Disney movie, that then becomes your focus to make sure since it can be made as good as it can be.

The Irish author admitted that after the film spent a number of years in development hell, he stepped away from actively working on it with Disney and focused on his writing. With that in mind, it’s understandable why he’s at peace with Artemis Fowl skipping theaters.

Artemis Fowl is currently streaming on Disney+. You can sign up for a free 7-day Disney+ trial now.

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