After multiple release delays, Disney is ditching its plans to premiere Mulan in movie theaters and sending it to Disney+.
Disney is testing the waters for a new film release model, instead of the movie being free to subscribers like Artemis Fowl, Mulan will be available to rent for an additional fee of $29.99 on top of the monthly subscription fee.
This is shocking news to hear after co-chairman and chief creative officer Alan Horn and co-chairman Alan Bergman stressed the necessity to see the film on the big screen. They said, “With sweeping battle scenes and lavishly appointed sets and costumes, Disney shelled out millions upon millions to make Mulan a must-see in theaters.”
But Disney CEO Bob Chapek, made the announcement in Disney’s third quarter earnings call where it was made public that the company had a net loss of almost $5 billion. Chaepek has made it clear that Disney is just testing this model out, “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,” Chapek said. They are hoping that by bringing the film to Disney+ as a rental, it will boost new sign ups for the streaming platform that already has over 60 million subscribers.
The announcement came as a shock to many movie theaters who were counting on Mulan and other summer blockbusters to act as saviors for the industry. The move has upset theater companies outside of the U.S. as well. Unlike the U.S. who has poorly handled pandemic and have case numbers on the rise, countries with steadily declining cases like China and the U.K. are starting to open up movie theaters with strict guidelines for audiences. They were ready for movies of this caliber to open only to have the rug pulled from under them.
This move seems rather cruel when just last week AMC and Universal came to an agreement collaborating on theatrical releases and VOD terms. Couldn’t Disney have read the room and made a similar deal with movie theater chains?
Mulan will be available to rent on Disney+ starting September 4th.