UPDATE: This article previously mentioned that Black Widow is also coming to Disney+, but the original tweet that announced this actually came from a non-official source. Disney has only confirmed Mulan for now. We’ve removed mention of Black Widow and apologize for any confusion.
With all of the juggling of movie release dates thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mulan was always one movie that Disney didn’t seem to know what to do with. The highly anticipated live-action remake of their animated classic was left out of the latest release announcements, leaving many to wonder exactly what Disney had planned for this expensive film. With a budget well north of $200 million, thanks to some great production design and explosive action visuals, it was a movie that was designed to be seen on the big screen and needed strong ticket sales to make a profit for the company.
It seems that Disney has now finally figured out how they want to release Mulan, as Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek has officially announced (via The Verge) that it’ll be released on Disney+ on 4 September 2020 in all the countries where the service is available. Which includes the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and definitely not us or the Chinese market where it could be a huge home box office draw. All these other countries without Disney+ will get traditional theatrical releases, but when that will happen is anybody’s guess for now.
Viewing Mulan won’t be cheap though, as Disney revealed that it’ll hit its On-Demand service within its streaming platform and will cost an additional $29.99 to watch.
That is a lot of money to watch a movie, but it may still work out cheaper for the average family than going to the cinema (if you include the usual soda and popcorn). Plus, you will get to watch it more than once as the movie will remain viewable to you as long as your Disney+ subscription remains valid. It is still far more than what you would traditionally pay for a Blu-Ray or DVD of the movie, and so it does feel ridiculously expensive in that context. There are many people in South Africa making use of VPNs to already access Disney+, but even they would be hard-pressed to want to pay that much to watch Mulan.
In an interview with Deadline Bob Chapek reveals that the Mulan approach is only a once-off for now. I do wonder though that if Mulan is successful that they may still go down this path come November.
We’re very pleased to be able to bring Mulan to our consumer base that has been waiting for it for a long, long time. Mulan is a one-off. That said, we find it very interesting to be able to take a new offering to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it and see what happens not only in terms of the uptick of the number of subscribers we got on the platform, but also the number of transactions we get on that PVOD offering.
Along with these announcements it was also revealed that Disney+, spurred on by the recent release of Hamilton (which coincidentally was supposed to be a theatrical release originally), has now cracked over 60 million subscribers. That means that if only 10% of that user base actually purchases Mulan, they would already make back their $200 million production budget. And they wouldn’t need to share a cent of it with anybody else, like what normally happens with theatrical distribution.
Suddenly this strategy seems a lot more viable, and if it proves to be a success for the studio, it’s one that they will probably follow more often in the future. Though I do hope that thy reconsider that pricing, especially when we get Disney+ here locally and then they need to adjust the prices to something that better suits our third-world wallets.
Last Updated: August 5, 2020