Mulan is a Disney epic to see in theaters. From everything we’ve heard about the supposedly excellent Disney remake, it’s a lavish period piece with grand spectacle meant to be seen on the big screen. Sadly, going to the movie theater is not safe or possible at the moment, due to COVID-19. For that reason, the Disney epic has been delayed more than once since March. Now, following a few delays, Disney has announced the movie will come to Disney+.
Stream Mulan Next Month
In a surprising movie, Disney will release Mulan digitally. In an unsurprising move, Disney will charge more money than any other studio has before for a VOD title. For the price of $30, you can stream Mulan starting September 4th. The $200 million dollar movie will play in theaters where Disney+ isn’t available, but in the United States and other territories, the movie will only be available on Disney+. Once purchased, people will own the movie forever. It’s not a one-time rental price. While $30 is pricier for a VOD purchase, it’s still a helluva lot cheaper than the cost of a family going to a movie theater to see a Disney movie.
According to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, this move does not represent a change in tides. Disney is still dedicated to theaters, although some theater owners view it as a slap to the face during trying times. At the end of the day, though, it’s Disney’s movie and they’re releasing it how they see fit. Chapek explained the divisive decision during an earnings call:
“We’re fortunate that we have the opportunity to bring it to our direct-to-consumer platform so consumers can enjoy it, but we’re looking at Mulan as a one-off, as opposed to say that there’s some new business windowing model that we’re looking at. So Mulan is a one-off. That said, we find it very interesting to be able to take a new offering, a premiere access offering, to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it and see what happens. Not only in terms of the uptake of the number of subscribers that we get on the platform, but the actual number of transactions on the Disney+ platform that we get on that PVOD offering…we can test almost anything when you have your own platform…we’re going to have a chance to learn from this.”
Mulan is the second major release Disney has released on Disney+ during the pandemic. The other title was the dreadful Artemis Fowl, which the studio probably preferred to stream instead of releasing theatrically out of embarrassment. It’s a disaster.
Theater Owners Are Mixed
Recently, AMC Theaters struck a deal with Universal which will allow them to release major movies on VOD quicker than ever before. It was a controversial move, which other theater chains weren’t happy about. Lately, moving movies to VOD has infuriated theater owners, in need of movies to show whenever they can reopen safely. Of course, many theater owners aren’t happy about not being able to show Mulan, which easily would’ve made hundreds of millions, if not over a billion, in theaters across the globe. UK Theater owners, in particular, aren’t happy about it.
AMC Accepts the Move
AMC Theaters is not in a position to bite the hand that feeds. They tried that with Universal, claiming they’ll never show their movies again, but look how that turned out. North America’s most popular theater chain, of course, isn’t going to push back against Disney. Nobody messes with the greedy and greasy mouse. AMC needs Disney, which is why AMC’s CEO, Adam Aron, says he’s fine with the studio’s decision to release a movie that would’ve made them a ton of money:
“You might think I’m disappointed that Mulan is moving, but AMC has no bigger friend than Disney. They provided us with more content last year than other studio in the world. As both companies do businesses, we will thrive. Disney just announced earnings. Just like AMC, they’re under duress. They are under pressure too and at some point need to monetize their slate. We’ll benefit from Disney titles with or without Mulan. We understand what they did.”
Unlike Universal or other major studios, Disney has their own platform. They could easily one day skip theaters with many of their titles. Don’t be surprised if we see more movies like Mulan from the studio available on Disney+ one day, especially if Disney’s live-action remake does well on the platform.