ABC Revives 'Wonderful World of Disney' Banner for Movie Series

Moana - Photofest Still - H 2019
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Photofest

ABC is bringing back its Wonderful World of Disney banner for a series of theatrical movies that will air on the network.

The four films will run on Wednesday nights for four weeks beginning May 20. ABC is following in the footsteps of CBS, which started its own Sunday movie night on May 3 with Raiders of the Lost Ark. (All of the films in CBS' five-week series are from its ViacomCBS sibling Paramount Pictures.)

Disney Animation's Moana will lead off the series on May 20, followed by Marvel's Thor: The Dark World on May 27, Pixar's Up on June 3 and Disney Animation's Big Hero 6 on June 10. All four are also available on the Disney+ streaming platform.

The movies will help bridge the gap between the end of the September-to-May season and the summer lineup. Starting with Thor: The Dark World, the pics will lead into the final season of Agents of SHIELD, which premieres May 27.

ABC won't have the NBA Finals to air in June, as the league is still on hold due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The network is rolling out its lineup of game shows earlier than usual to help fill that hole. 

Movie nights were long a staple of broadcast schedules, but were gradually eliminated in the 1990s and 2000s as premium cable became the primary outlet for TV premieres of theatrical films. Prior to this month, ABC was the last broadcaster to have a regularly scheduled movie night. That was back in the 2007-08 season, when it aired films in the low-traffic environment of Saturday night.

CBS saw decent returns from its showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark on Sunday, averaging about 5.3 million viewers.