Mulan will skip theaters and go straight to Disney Plus — but it won’t be included in your subscription price
We can’t say we’re exactly surprised to hear this news. Mulan held its red carpet premiere on March 9, just before business closures amid the coronavirus pandemic forced Disney to delay the film’s theatrical premiere. Executives clearly tried to hold out hope that movie theaters could reopen and give this blockbuster the premiere it deserves, but as more and more studios delay premieres and movie theater chains keep pushing back their reopening plans, the announcement we kind of expected is finally here: Mulan will skip theaters and premiere on Disney Plus instead.
There’s a twist that we’re not sure families will be thrilled about, though: Mulan won’t be included in the $6.99 a month users pay for their Disney Plus subscriptions. Anyone who wants to watch the movie when it premieres on Sept. 4 will have to pay a $29.99 rental fee on top.
That’s a $29.99 rental fee on top of your subscription price for Disney Plus — the rental will only be available to people who subscribe to the platform. But this isn’t like other one-time VOD rentals. Once you pay the $29.99, Mulan will be available for you to watch for as long as you remain a Disney Plus subscriber. Still, on social media, the hefty price tag is already getting attention from disappointed fans.
Disney releasing MULAN on their streaming service: pic.twitter.com/D5HGa0U5DZ
— Tom Zohar (@TomZohar) August 5, 2020
The rental fee will vary a little bit in different countries, and in places where Disney Plus isn’t available and theaters are open, Mulan will have a theatrical release.
While we kind of understand ($29.99 is still less than it costs in most cities to take a family of four to a movie at a theater), it remains to be seen how customers will feel about such a high price for a movie rental. That’s $10 more than Trolls: World Tour cost to rent when it made its streaming-service debut earlier this year. in fact, this will make Mulan one of the most expensive on-demand movies ever. All this during one of the worst economic downturns in human history.
Will you rent #Mulan on Disney Plus for $29.99?
— Variety (@Variety) August 4, 2020
Considering Disney’s $200 million budget for making Mulan, we can see how they’re willing to try anything to recoup some of those costs, especially as the pandemic keeps Disneyland, Disney cruises, retail stores, and theaters shuttered indefinitely. Disney has also recently announced that it’s delaying release plans for its upcoming Avatar sequel and its newest Star Wars installment.
So could this be how movie releases work in the pandemic age? Disney CEO Bob Chapek told investors on the company’s earnings call this week that the company hopes not.
“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,” he said.
I still maintain that this is not the end of the theatrical experience. If you have the money, support the filmmakers who made #Mulan so we can have more opportunities for women of color. If we do that & wear a mask, one day theaters will reopen & the world will be a better place
— Matt Neglia (@NextBestPicture) August 5, 2020
— BossLogic (@Bosslogic) August 5, 2020
Still, Disney isn’t the only studio that’s had to make concessions about major releases this year. With no date in sight that movie theaters will be safe to reopen (and definitely no guarantee that anyone will want to crowd into a movie theater, even if they do open their doors), the movie industry will have to get creative to survive this. With such a high price tag, if Mulan is a success on Disney Plus, we have no doubt that Disney will lean into this strategy for other new movies.