“Stargirl” is coming, and that right soon. For those in need of a brief overview or refresher, this 20-year-old literary property is finally getting a proper live-action treatment. Deadline.com broke the casting news in mid-2018, and while the original schedule called for a 2019 premiere, more recently it’s been announced that we can expect “Stargirl” sometime in early 2020. Sadly, this comes not on the big screen with a gala Hollywood event, but instead on the small screen as one of the high-profile attractions for a fledgling streaming service. It is at its core the story of a smart, kind, and, most of all, inspirational young woman who has chosen the name Stargirl for herself. Her experiences as the incoming sophomore at a strange new high school in the American heartland – making new friends, tangling with the popular “queen-bee” of the school, and figuring out who she really is inside, make for a fresh modern twist on a classic genre of storytelling. Now if people just wouldn’t keep confusing it with the YA book by Jerry Spinelli.
Yes, you read that right. As outlined in Mark Lalonde’s piece back in March, similarities between the titles and key details of the two upcoming projects and their expected release dates can and already has created a good deal of confusion. Media outlets have already conflated on-location filming of the two, while fan-sites are posting notices to attempt to clarify the issue. Even the news feeds on IMDB.com can’t seem to keep straight the articles for the Disney+ movie and the DC television series. The announcement came earlier this year that the DC superhero show starring Brec Bassinger as Courtney Whitmore was being put off until “early 2020”, leaving it in the same scheduling limbo as Grace’s musical dramedy movie. Just recently, rumors floated that the DC “Stargirl” series may not air on the lightly-subscribed DC Universe streaming service, but may instead find a home on the CW broadcast channel or HBO Max streamer. Either move might lead to a higher profile and create more chaos in tracking the correct production.
Further confusing potential viewers of either production was Graham Verchere’s casting and appearance on seven episodes of the recent fourth season of DC’s television show “Supergirl”. Even his character’s name, George Lockwood, has a passing similarity to his turn as Leo Borlock in the Disney+ feature. Several of Grace’s other co-stars have ties to comic-book genre productions. Maximiliano Hernández portrayed Agent Jasper Sitwell in four Marvel Comic Universe movies and three episodes of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Actress Artemis, who portrays head-cheerleader Malory Stillwell in Disney+’s “Stargirl” publicly lobbied for the part of Kate Bishop in the new Marvel “Hawkeye” streaming television series.
As publicity ramps up for both premieres, the genuine confusion of casual fans of both projects are likely to spill over into comments boards and other forums. While there is always an element of potential trolling on these sorts of public sites, especially among fandoms of both comic-related ventures and young adult books, it’s important to remember that what looks like sarcastic commentary may simply be either confusion or lack of knowledge of the “other Stargirl”. As always, the VanderVault urges continued polite restraint to all of its members and fans, and to try to understand and react appropriately to this highly-confusing set of circumstances.
While the Disney+ press releases and other “Stargirl” documentation list vague terms like “in the first year” or “early 2020”, a couple of Grace’s candid comments (slips?) in interviews suggest a February 2020 debut date. While the timing of the release of trailers and other promos for Disney+ originals to be available at inception was tied to the D23 Expo on August 23rd, the 81-day gap between first trailers and launch can be used as a rough yardstick to gauge when we might expect the “Stargirl” push to begin. For example, if Disney+ has slated to add new content without regard to the beginning of the month, a Stargirl premiere in the middle of February 2020 would track back 81 days to a push beginning in late November 2019, a week or two after the service launches. This would give Stargirl the advantage of potentially appearing on banner ads on the Disney+ guide screens, and as a trailer (potentially with skip/fast-forward disabled) before any streaming selection begins. Additionally, the trailer and TV commercials will be available both on Disney-owned platforms and the general media landscape as well.
With all of the potential viewers that this marketing blitz might reach, which types of viewers might be the ones that will be the most (and least) swayed to sign up and watch “Stargirl”? And which groups of potential fans will be best served by the promotion, the actual movie, and Grace’s performance? As a light-hearted exercise, some of the potential groups of target audiences and their expectations are outlined below, along with a little advice to perhaps help them frame the experience.
Grace Music Superfans
Profile: These die-hards have been sniffing out leads and following trails of info, looking for any available information about the production, and specifically the soundtrack, for going on two years. They lost their minds when Grace mentioned that there would be “lots” of music in the movie. Some are wondering if there’s anything else worth keeping the Disney+ subscription for, once the movie is out.
Most-likely comment: “How come the movie isn’t filled with Grace originals?!?”
Response: “Listen, she always does a great cover of the Hill Sisters’ rock anthem ‘Happy Birthday’ ”.
Jerry Spinelli Book Fans
Profile: YA book-lovers have been imagining the scenes and casting the parts in their heads for up to 20 years now, putting themselves in place of Stargirl, or Leo, or (rarely) Archie. Many sat in a funk for weeks when the Catherine Hardwicke-Joey King-Charlie Plummer version fell through. Several have checked to find out if the “Maniac McGee” movie is streaming on Disney+.
Most-likely comment: “Grace doesn’t look/act/sing like I imagined.”
Response: “Spinelli-tested, Spinelli-approved.”
Profile: Rescheduled the date of their next trip to Disneyland/World so as not to coincide with Launch Day. Many found out about “Stargirl” for the first time while running through the D23 halls on the way from the Mandalorian panel to the “Free The ‘Song of the South’ “ protest march. Complained to Disney+ marketing support staff that the 3-year promotional deal wasn’t for long enough.
Most-likely comment: “Why is ‘Stargirl’ a Disney thing?”
Response: “Squint a little, and she could be a Disney Princess, complete with animal sidekick and running from the ball at midnight.”
Here By Mistake
Profile: These DC Comics fanatics have been holed up for years, poring over filming details and release updates, and yet somehow missed the memo that pointed them to the right “Stargirl”. Not likely to need any more incentive to sign up – while many wouldn’t go near the Marvel collection, Disney+ had them at “Star Wars”.
Most-likely comment: “Hey, this isn’t right! Nobody’s wearing capes!”
Response: “Come for the spangled costume and Cosmic Staff, stay for the spangled outfits and cosmic outlook on life.”
Disney Channel Original Movie Fans
Profile: These young (or young-at-heart) fans grew up on made-for-Disney movies, and freely admit to having watched “Teen Beach Movie”. Both of them. More than once. On purpose. Some are still depressed that Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens couldn’t make it work. Likely signed up for Disney+ early for access to the full Brenda Song back-catalogue.
Most-likely comment: “Hey, Karan Brar is in it, does it have anything to do with ‘Jesse’?”
Response: “No, it’s more like ‘High School Musical 3.5: The One REALLY Filmed in Albuquerque’.”