Specifically, Disney will be releasing the film theatrically in certain markets where the studio currently has no announced launch plans for Disney+ and where theaters are open (i.e., China). The concern with opening the film in some theaters worldwide and not others, was, of course, piracy-related.
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CEO Bob Chapek said during the company’s earnings call that it was important to find new avenues of distribution during the pandemic and that “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 September 4, with the price point being $29.99 in the U.S.”
Chapek added during a round of questioning with financial analysts, “We’re pleased to bring Mulan to a consumer base that’s been waiting for it as we’ve had to move our (release) dates several times…We’re looking at Mulan as a one-off as opposed trying to say that there’s a new business windowing model.” What Disney will be keeping an eye on with Mulan is the uptick in subscribers as well as transactions generated on the service with that new price point. So, exhibition, don’t lose your hair yet: Disney isn’t planning to take Black Widow out of theaters this November (at least not yet).
In regard to pricing Mulan at near $30, Chapek added, “as you know it’s fairly expensive to produce for consumers the quality we’re known for. Rather than simply rolling (the movie) into a free offering, we thought we can test anything when you have your own platform. We’re trying to establish a new premiere access window to capture that investment we got (in the film). We’ll have a chance to learn from this. From our research under a premiere access offering, not only does it get us revenue from our original transaction of PVOD, but it’s a fairly large stimulus to sign up for Disney+.”
God knows this decision will be a crushing blow for those U.S. movie theaters planning to reopen and in need of a big title. However, nobody knows how such a reopening will look and perform. Also, New York and California have yet to give a full clearance for hard-top cinemas to reopen.
There was buzz that Disney could go this way with Mulan, but some believed the studio was waiting to see what went on with Tenet. Disney’s decision today to take Mulan straight into homes over Labor Day weekend makes the Universal-AMC window-collapse deal look like child’s play in regards to creating future “revenue events” out of these finished movies which are collecting dust on the shelf. No Mulan just means more screens for Tenet as more cinemas come back online stateside.
On July 23, Disney took Mulan off the calendar temporarily (its previous date being August 21) as Warner Bros was pausing its Tenet plans. It was unfortunate timing by Disney as it was on the same day AMC announced they’d be reopening slowly around the country by mid-August.
Chapek also mentioned Tuesday that global subscribers for Disney+ has reached 60.5 million. Netflix recently announced it’s jumped their worldwide sub count to 193M.
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