News that Disney is preparing to release its remake of Mulan on the Disney+ streaming service is a potential game-changer.
Side-stepping cinemas – many of which remain closed due to the worldwide coronavirus lockdown – could test the water for the studio to see if it can potentially still make money with its new movies without theatrical release.
“We’re looking at Mulan as a one-off, as opposed to saying there’s some new business windowing model that we’re looking at,” said Disney CEO Bob Chapek. “We find it very interesting to take a premiere offering to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it.”
While it might be a ‘one-off’, this is certainly also a toe in the water.
However, the premium cost of the movie on top of users' Disney+ subscription, is not sitting well among some fans.
Quite apart from the fact that many have issues with the new live-action version being different from the much-loved original (no Mushu, Eddie Murphy's fast-talking dragon for a start, and also no songs), the cost is proving to be a sticking point.
Aimed squarely at families, and set at a figure reminiscent of a family cinema ticket, some fans are pointing out that this is a pricey outlay.
I wouldn't pay $30 for a movie ticket in the theater. So im not going to pay that to see the new Mulan, especially when it doesn't have Mushu or classic songs form the animated version #DisneyPlus— Louis McAtee (@louis_mcatee) August 5, 2020
So they're making us pay for it while paying for the subscription? For a movie that has no music and no Mushu? Nah fam, I'm good https://t.co/1zuyeBwNKR— 𝑨𝒍𝒚𝒙 (@Wise_Ravenclaw) August 5, 2020
am i really expected to pay $30 to watch a version of Mulan without Mushu, Li Shang, and some raggedy a$$ witch as the bad guy... pic.twitter.com/Z27ZCU0DKz— manny | cancelled era (@sweetenermanny) August 5, 2020
And that's all quite apart from the fact that this version isn't a musical.
Some, however, are cool with it.
It cost me and my lady at least $50 to go to a movie theater (with snacks) so paying $30 to watch #Mulan from the comfort of my home is no problem. I’m with it.— Luke Wessman (@LukeWessman) August 5, 2020
I go to movies at 10 am to save money and avoid crowds, so Mulan for $30 is a non-starter for me. However, I also realize most people are not me, and that's not the calculus for families. There's plenty of room for both PVOD and theaters--it's win-win for consumers.— Tom Bricker (@Tom_Bricker) August 4, 2020
Equally, it’s worth noting that the cost of the stream will come with continued access to the movie as long as you’re a Disney+ subscriber.
For those who have Qs about #Mulan's $29.99 price point. You're not paying for a one time rental. Rep confirms to me, "Once purchased, Disney+ subscribers will have continuous access to the film for as long as they remain subscribers to the service." https://t.co/8V2JSsZDZC— Kirsten (@KirstenAcuna) August 5, 2020
The movie, which follows the story the daughter of a famous warrior who disguises herself a man in order to join the imperial army fighting invaders from the north, stars Liu Yifei as Mulan alongside Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee and Jet Li.
With cinemas remaining shuttered around the world, and only some tentatively re-opening (and some shutting again having re-opened, as seen in California), the move echoes others currently being made in the movie business as loss of revenue begins to bite at the major studios.
Last week, the AMC chain, which owns Odeon in the UK, announced a deal with Universal Pictures to reduce the window for theatrical movie releases from the usual 90 days to just three weeks.
Disney is planning to release Mulan in the US on Disney+ from 4 September, and in cinemas where possible.
A UK release date has not yet been specified. Disney UK has been contacted for clarification.