The Hamilton movie is streaming on Disney+, with one of the more obvious differences being the lack of a full intermission you’d get watching the musical in a theater – though the streamer does factor in a quick break. Hamilton became a musical phenomenon after debuting on Broadway back in 2015; the Lin-Manuel Miranda-created show went on to break both box office and Tony Awards records, all of which ultimately led to Disney paying around $75 million for the rights to the filmed version of the stage production. Originally scheduled to debut in 2021, Disney+ instead released Hamilton on July 3, 2020.
Since the Hamilton movie on Disney+ is a filmed version of the show, rather than an actual big screen adaptation, then it’s offering at-home viewers about the closest you can get to the real experience without being in the theater. Shot over three nights at Richard Rogers Theatre in New York, the Hamilton film on Disney+ does have some differences to the live version. Due to its very nature and the work of director Thomas Kail, there are shots and angles used that theater-goes would be unable to see themselves while sat in the audience. Hamilton is also censored on Disney+, with two instances of “f**k” blocked out.
Aside from those, the other major difference with watching Hamilton on Disney+ versus viewing it in a theater is that you don’t need to wait for the intermission to take a toilet or refreshments break. The musical’s runtime is around 163 minutes, and if you go to see the musical live, the intermission in Hamilton comes roughly 1 hour 15 minutes into the show. The final song of Act 1 is, fittingly enough, “Non-Stop”, and while you don’t get 15 minutes as you would in the theater, Disney+ has factored this in: at the end of the song is an intermission countdown of one minute. Of course, you may well need longer, but this is still the best time to take a break on Disney+.
While intermissions are there to give audiences a comfort break (and for the theaters to sell food and drink), the placement of it in Hamilton does work in the musical’s favor. “Non-Stop” and the subsequent break mark a real turning point in the narrative, as it shifts from Alexander Hamilton, George Washington et al leading the fight from American independence, and into the questions of how that governance actually works in Act 2; “Non-Stop” not only sets this up, but also further establishes the rivalry between Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and the non-stop work ethic that will also lead to further problems for Alexander.
Since Act 2 brings in a bunch of new Hamilton characters, played by actors who appeared as different ones in Act 2 (such as Daveed Diggs swapping out Marquis de Lafayette for Thomas Jefferson, or Jasmine Cephas Jones trading Peggy Schuyler for Maria Reynolds), then it further enhances the need for an intermission, serving as a cleaner break between the two halves of the story. Of course, it’s not essential, and the runtime isn’t too much that a lengthy break is totally necessary – and conversely, the beauty of it being on Disney+ is that you can pause at any time you like – but if you’re striving for as much authenticity as possible, then after “Non-Stop” is the time to take a break from Hamilton.