Disney's long-delated live-action remake of Mulan finally has a fixed release date, but there's a catch. Disney had been adamant that Mulan would be released theatrically and denied any claims that the movie could land on Disney+. Well, a lot can change in a few months, and we are living in unprecedented times where all studios are trying to figure out how to adapt. While Mulan will still be available in selected cinemas on September 4, it will also be accessible via Disney+, for an additional fee.
Disney CEO Bob Chepak announced during the third-quarter earnings call (via Deadline); “in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and number of countries, we will be offering on Disney+, the epic Mulan on a premiere access beginning Sept. 4, with the price point being $29.99 in the U.S.”
This is much the same model that films like Trolls World Tour, and The Invisible Man took early on in the pandemic and released early on paid-for VOD. Now, the key bit of information their is that Mulan will only be available on Disney+, so firstly you'll need a Disney+ subscription before paying for the movie. Premium VOD is nothing new, but Disney+ being the exclusive home to rent Mulan means Amazon, Apple and other digital purchase points won't be selling the movie.
Chepak was keen to stress that they are looking at Mulan's unconventional release as "a one-off", and not setting a new precedent for future titles.
“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.”
The bottom line here is that Disney reported a net loss of $4.72 billion in its third fiscal quarter, and it's sitting on dozens of potential box office blockbusters. It's one thing to release troubled projects like Artemis Fowl on Disney+, but Mulan, Black Widow, The Eternals, and many more, are all potential blockbusters, something that Disney needs right now. It remains unclear what the global plan for Mulan is, but with some countries cinemas closely reopening, a duel theatrical and Disney+ launch seems possible to give audiences the choice.