Starting March 31, Disney+ Hotstar will no longer host HBO content, which includes the beloved The Last of Us, Game of Thrones, Succession, Euphoria, and a whole lot more. With that entire catalogue gone, people online have been wondering whether it's still worth holding on to their Disney+ Hotstar subscriptions. While initially I saw this as an overreaction, a quick browse through my Hotstar account showed that 70 percent of the content on my home page was an HBO production, and that's when it hit me how big a deal this is. The case might be similar for others as well, since the WarnerMedia company is known for pushing out deeply engaging, quality content — most of them being top contenders at the Emmy Awards.
The tweet from Disney+ Hotstar's support team promises a huge library of content 'spanning over 100,000 hours of TV Shows and Movies' in multiple languages and sporting events. Of course, this includes the general Disney content - both animated and live-action - in addition to stuff from Marvel, which includes all their TV movies, shows, behind-the-scenes documentaries, animated series, and the grounded stories they brought over from Netflix, such as Daredevil and The Punisher. Beyond that, we've got Star Wars content which follows a similar pattern, with every possible film and show being offered as part of Disney+ Hotstar's catalogue. For nature and wildlife freaks, we have a National Geographic channel, whereas Hulu and FX content comes under the Star World banner, which includes award-winning entries such as Abbott Elementary and Under the Banner of Heaven, as well as new entries such as Fleishman is in Trouble.
HBO Content to Move From Disney+ Hotstar From March 31: Details
HBO will soon be removed from this list of channels
Photo Credit: Screenshot/ Rahul Chettiyar
By visiting the channels category on the site, you'll get a better grasp of what's left. Hotstar Specials brings you Indian originals such as the new Anil Kapoor-led Hindi-language adaptation of The Night Manager, Bhuvan Bam's Taaza Khabar, and more. Of course, one can always look for movies to watch, generally distributed by Searchlight Pictures and 20th Century Studios — both owned by Disney. Unfortunately, most critically-acclaimed/ indie entries are hidden away, and demand the audience to be knowledgeable enough to use the search bar to look for them. There's also sports content ranging from various international cricket matches and tournaments, to the English Premier League for footballing fans. It's worth mentioning that the Indian Premier League's (IPL) streaming rights are now owned by Viacom18, so you won't be able to live stream it on Hotstar.
With that, we've curated a list of popular content across TV series, movies, and sports to stream on Disney+ Hotstar, even after March 31:
What's beautiful about Andor is that you could strip away all its geeky Star Wars jargon, and it would still function as a well-written spy thriller. Set five years before the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this 12-part series charts the course of the rebel spy Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a regular thief, who wages war against the oppressive Empire. In his quest for revenge, he runs into the mysterious Luther Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), who has been observing our hero and convinces him to join the Rebellion, in order to infiltrate the oppressors and spy on them. Genevieve O'Reilly reprises her role as Mon Mothma, a senator who tries navigating the politics of the Empire in favour of our heroes. Indeed, she's another spy, and this time, the character is seen right in the heart of the action.
Another great quality about Andor is that it is the first Star Wars project to forgo the StageCraft tech, which relies on digital LED screens to create virtual backgrounds. Filming was either done at Pinewood Studios in London or at real-life locations with larger-than-life set pieces that make our characters appear helpless and small. For a show of this scale, Andor features a superb ensemble cast including Adria Arjona as Andor's romantic interest Bix Caleen, Denise Gough as the high-ranking Imperial officer Dedra Meero, Kyle Soller as Imperial officer Syril Kahn, and Fiona Shaw as Maarva, the adopted mother of Andor.
The 12-episode series has been created by Tony Gilroy (the Bourne trilogy) and also has a second season on the way, which is poised to cover another four years by jumping across timelines.
Andor Review: Grown Up Star Wars Pushes the Galaxy, Just as Rogue One
The Mandalorian was the first to employ ILM's StageCraft technology to its advantage, creating backgrounds that mimic the scope of silver screen Star Wars movies. While Andor was a spy thriller in essence, The Mandalorian is best described as a space Western, set five years after Return of the Jedi (1983). If you've seen HBO's The Last of Us, this show is somewhat similar in the sense that Pedro Pascal is assigned to smuggle a kid, but then he forms a bond with them and swears to keep them from harm at all costs. Only here, he plays a lone bounty hunter Din Djarin, while Grogu/ Baby Yoda fits the 'kid' aspect of the story, despite being 50 years old.
While looking to reunite the toddler with his kind, Djarin is pursued by the genocidal Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who intends to use Grogu's Force-sensitive blood. In the series, veteran actor Carl Weathers appears as the greedy agent Greef Karga, Gina Carano as the mercenary Cara Dune, and Emily Swallow as The Armorer, the leader of the orthodox Mandalorian warrior tribe. Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian's first season was nominated in the Outstanding Drama Series category at the 2020 Emmy Awards and is now airing its third season.
Remember the alternate version of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who disappeared with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame? That's the character we're dealing with in this Disney+ series, which in a way tries to reset his arc. Having gotten hold of the crystalline cube, the God of Mischief has wreaked havoc across space and time, messing with history to suit his desires. Of course, such actions have consequences, which leads the Time Variance Authority (TVA) to arrest him and present him with two choices: either get erased from existence, or help fix the timeline. The cunning god naturally chooses the latter, sparking a comedic crime-thriller that sees him venturing through the multiverse.
Joining — or rather, ordering him around on the crusade is TVA agent Mobius (Owen Wilson), who intends to catch another time-hopping culprit creating real trouble for the organisation. Loki also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw (The Cloverfield Paradox) as TVA Judge Renslayer, Wunmi Mosaku (Alice, Darling) as Hunter B-15, and Sophia Di Martino (Into the Badlands) as Sylvie. Kate Herron — best known for Netflix's Sex Education — has directed all six episodes of the MCU series, which is now amping up for a second season this year.
Loki Season 1 Review: Laying Out the Marvel Multiverse
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This award-winning crime drama from writer-director Martin McDonagh is a heartbreaking story about a mother's (Frances McDormand) thirst for vengeance, due to the lack of progress in her daughter's (Kathryn Newton) murder investigation. As a protest against the local law force, she rents out three abandoned billboards leading into Ebbing, Missouri, posting controversial messages directed at the chief of police Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). The signs, which are also meant to bring attention from visitors to the town read: “Raped while dying,” “And still no arrests,” and “How come, Chief Willoughby?”
Understandably, it attracts enough attention for the chief and his violent junior Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell) to interfere in the affairs, transpiring into a war between the mother and the cops. Ben Davis' cinematography adds a scenic beauty to the screwed-up town, often serving as breakpoints before the next dose of drama ensues. There are some mesmerising scenes involving fires that you need to be on the lookout for as well. Once you're done with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, check out the director's next work, The Banshees of Inisherin, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, which has been nominated in eight categories at the 2023 Oscars.
On March 13, at 5:30am IST, Disney+ Hotstar will also play host to the Oscars ceremony.
If you're in the mood for some dark comedy, The Menu is sure to suit your palette. In it, a foodie Tyler Ledford (Nicholas Hoult) and his date Margot Mills (Anya Taylor-Joy) travel to an exclusive island restaurant to dine under the acclaimed Chef Slovik's (Ralph Fiennes) presence. To the guests' amazement, however, the lavish menu is full of shocking surprises, often poking fun at gourmet cooking and gradually breaking down the walls of sanity within the establishment. It's best to go into this movie with zero knowledge of the events, but expect some level of gore and horror.
Peter Deming's (Mulholland Drive) cinematography lends a luxurious look and framing to The Menu, with every food item communicating a sense of passion from the toiling chefs — akin to how they're presented in any Luca Guadagnino film. The Menu is directed by Mark Mylod, who is also responsible for a few episodes from HBO's Succession and comedies such as Ali G Indahouse. The film also stars Oscar nominee Hong Chau (The Whale), Janet McTeer (Allegiant), and John Leguizamo (John Wick: Chapter 2) in key roles.
Of course, there's no way we were ignoring football fans, who will be enjoying their share of action throughout the year. Arsenal F.C. still holds strong in the first position, as Pep Guardiola's Manchester City gradually tails them in the hunt to lift the prestigious trophy. Meanwhile, Chelsea F.C. continues to underperform this season, now sitting in the 10th position on the league table.
With the EPL's 2022–23 season slated to end this May, it will be interesting to see how the remaining matches play out. All signs point toward Arsenal's redemption, having last won the trophy in 2003. The Premier League will remain on Disney+ Hotstar till at least the end of the 2024-25 season.
Mikel Arteta is directing Arsenal F.C. towards glory, this Premier League season
Photo Credit: Arsenal F.C.
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