The live-action remake is going the digital route.
Mulan, the latest in the series of live-action remakes of Disney’s animated classics, was slated to come out in theaters in March. Due to the ongoing pandemic shuttering theaters, however, the release date was pushed back to July, then to August. With their theme parks floundering in the quarantine climate and live-action shows harder to produce, Disney can’t really afford to let its big summer blockbuster languish in obscurity. To this end, the company has opted for a compromise.
Disney announced yesterday that on September 4, Mulan will be available on its digital streaming service, Disney+, for a rental fee of $29.99. In territories where Disney+ is not available, a theatrical release is still in the works.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek has stressed that this decision to opt for digital release in addition to theatrical is a strictly one-time occurrence. “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.
According to Chapek, Disney will be looking at the streaming release as a study opportunity of sorts in order to see how many customers are willing to pay to stream a blockbuster film, and whether its release would generate additional subscribers for Disney+. “We find it very interesting to take a premiere offering to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it,” he said.
Thanks to the pandemic keeping everyone wary from going outdoors, streaming services have become incredibly lucrative. For Disney, Disney+ and Hulu were the only businesses that turned a steady profit for the company, showing a 2% growth in the last quarter to a $4 billion valuation. Until Disney parks can regain their usual profitability, direct-to-consumer streaming is “top priority and key to the future of the company,” according to Chapek.