After an internet uproar, Howard—the 2018 documentary chronicling the indelible legacy of lyricist Howard Ashman, the queer icon who gave The Little Mermaid a voice—will stay on Disney+. Deadline shared the update that that the title was no longer on a list of films being removed from the streamer.
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The Don Hahn-directed homage to Ashman almost had a twisted fate, as the film was originally slated for removal the same day Rob Marshall’s live-action Little Mermaid opens in theaters. (It also would have also happened right after a large group of Disney employees learned their jobs will longer be relocated to the anti-LGBTQIA+ state of Florida.) Marshall’s film stars Halle Bailey in the lead role as the mermaid Ariel; her soaring version of Ashman and Alan Menken’s “Part of Your World” helps solidify her as The Little Mermaid for a new generation. Making Howard unavailable for viewing would’ve been a highly misguided move on Disney’s part, coming right as a new era for Ashman’s musical legacy is beginning.
Ashman passed before seeing the world’s love for his music. In Howard, his partner Bill Lauch shares what it meant for the lyricist before his passing. “I think it dawned on him that the work he’d been doing there was going to live on,” Lauch recalled, speaking about what happened when they saw The Little Mermaid’s presence at Disney Parks. “It was going to become part of this canon of pieces that Walt Disney has in their collection. And it would reach many people.”
Howard is on Disney+—safe for now, and it makes a wonderful pre-game watch before The Little Mermaid opens on May 26.
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