As if 2020 does not pack enough surprise for moviegoers, Disney announced that their very much anticipated live-action remake of Mulan will finally get the nod to be aired worldwide, but with a catch; the film will get a split-release towards Disney+ and theaters, on the same date.
September 4th is where you should mark your calendar, because if you are an active subscriber of the Mouse House’s own streaming service, Disney+, Mulan will march directly towards your TV’s and short throw projectors on that day. But (this is a rather big ‘but’), subscribers who are already paying either $6.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly subscription fee need to fork out an additional payment of $29.99 to enjoy Mulan on their devices, irregardless of whether they intend to watch alone, with their families, or pets.
Though this can be shocking at the first glance, the live-action adaptation of Mulan reportedly costs $200 million in production budget alone, so naturally, to air Mulan on Disney+ without any surcharge is akin to pressing a giant red button for the big-shots at Disney.
“We are looking at Mulan as a one-off, as opposed to say, there’s some new business windowing model we’re looking at,” Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek said during the release of the company’s earning numbers. The onslaught of Covid-19 had pushed Disney’s theme park and other businesses into a steep decline lately, so it is not abnormal for Disney to come out with a drastic countermeasure to recoup its losses. Granted, the company’s bizarre strategy for Mulan could mark the beginning of many more such measures to come.
“Hey, what about countries without access to Disney+?”
I hear you, and I suppose, Chapek had already foreseen that as well. If you are residing in areas outside US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and “a number of countries in Western Europe”, where Disney+ isn’t available to you, fret not, as Mulan will still come to you in the form of theatrical release. That is, of course, provided that your local cinemas will be open by 4th of September this year to accommodate the premiere.
On the surface, this strategy sounds like just the perfect approach that Disney needs during this troubled times; after-all, who in Disney will really mind raking in profits from the streaming surcharge and theatrical release, while seeing a huge jump in subscribers for Disney+, all at the same time? But beneath that, well, that’s another story.
Though born out of survival’s stake, this very decision by Disney comes as an invisible stab towards theater chains globally. Despite the assurance given that the Mulan-strategy is an anomaly, there’s just no denying that when the clock strikes 12 midnight on 3rd of September, data will flow in, and rest assured that the executives at Disney will hunt them down to their last bits.
Depending on how the figures (read: yardstick) takes shape, theaters may soon begin to lose their appeal in the eyes of Disney, even if many movie-goers would still vouch for the theatrical experience. Whether we like it or not, this is a colossal experiment for the film industry, and there’s just no stopping it.
On the bright side, things are going to be simpler for us, the consumers. Just pay whatever fee that your local cinemas charge you for a Mulan ticket, or pay $29.99 to grab Mulan and make sure that you watch it with 29 other family members this coming September.
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