Disney is gearing up to release their next film (Digital Mulan) on their new streaming service Disney+. While the studio has released a few movies on the service, such as Artemis Fowl and the recorded version of Hamilton stage play, the Mouse House is now planning to do something quite unprecedented.
New streaming service Disney+
Rather than simply put their film Mulan on a premium video on demand service such as iTunes or make a deal with Netflix to distribute the movie worldwide, which was Paramount’s move when releasing The Lovebirds, the streaming service will host the movie in its own service. However, there is a catch, in addition to paying the usual money for the subscription service, those hoping to watch Mulan will also have to pay an addition $30.
I wasn't particularly interested in "Mulan" but it's a bummer that a film of this scope, with an Asian cast, won't have its due – a worldwide theatrical release. We should all pay close attention to the movies whose theatrical releases are protected and those that are not. https://t.co/FmhGhrQx4z
— Nia DaCosta (@NiaDaCosta) August 4, 2020
Turning a streaming service into a place where made-for-theater movies can premiere at an inflated price, isn’t something that’s been done before. This will no doubt shake the format of other streaming services if this does well for Disney. Putting Mulan straight on a streaming service, would have been a loss given the exuberant $200 million dollar price tag attached.
Now Disney stands a chance at winning over all the profits from this method help them avoid the loss that could have incurred from playing in empty theaters in the pandemic. There is speculation that only 8 million of Disney’s current 55 million subscribers, paying the 30 dollar extra fee to “unlock” the movie on the service, would result in a profit for the company.
— IGN (@IGN) August 10, 2020
Mulan directed by Niki Caro was one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the year. The film was an adaptation of the classic Disney movie of the same name which was based on a Chinese folklore. The film sees a woman pose as a man to enlist in the army to take the place of her ailing father, when Emperor of China issues a decree stating that every household must send a man to fight in the army.
The animated film is one of the most acclaimed Disney movies of its time, with its strong feminist plot resonating with generations of audiences.
Disney’s Digital Mulan: The character’s importance
Disney has already commissioned a sequel to the live action movie, even while so much of Mulan’s release has been a disaster. The film was rescheduled multiple times before it was decided that Mulan would premiere on Disney+ in the states and would open theatrically in places like China where the Covid situation was relatively under control.
What’s interesting about this release strategy is that it could be seen as something Disney will do for their upcoming tentpole releases, if this release model is effective. These include mainly the Marvel films such as Black Widow and the Eternals movie.
Disney has beaten industry predictions for its streaming service time and time again, getting subscribers quickly through a combination of its library (featuring all the MCU and Disney movies) and its buzzy new shows such as The Mandalorian.
Disney: Hosting marquee films in its service Digital Mulan
Mulan’s addition to the service will no doubt be a big draw for consumers who will seek to add a Disney+ subscription to their bills upon seeing that Disney is now hosting marquee films in its service.
Mulan has been the subject of heavy scrutiny for a while. The movie is the most expensive film helmed by a female director. It will also be the first Disney film to have a PG 13 rating. Furthermore, actress Liu Yifei’s support of police in Hong Kong lead to many calls for boycott and backlash.
Now the film seems to be the first of the many mega budget films to release digitally instead of in theaters and Disney’s new release model, if effective could pave way for other streaming services (such as WB’s HBO Max, and Universal’s Peacock) to attempt this themselves. Mulan will release on September 4 in places where the Disney+ app has launched.