After pulling live-action remake Mulan off the release schedule indefinitely a few weeks back, Disney today announced it’s making the decision to forego a theatrical release entirely in the United States, instead sending it to Disney+.
During an earnings call, it was announced that Mulan will be debuting on Disney+ on September 4th, Labor Day weekend, for the premium rental price of $29.99. “We thought it was important to find alternative ways to bring [Mulan] in a timely manner,” said Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
Chapek and other Disney executives stressed that this is a one-off situation created by the pandemic shutdown forcing their hand. Their plan, reportedly, is not to regularly pull big theatrical releases and send them to Disney+ moving forward. However, considering Disney has already twice bumped theatrical releases to Disney+ in the last few months, first with Artemis Fowl, then with the theatrical recording of Hamilton, it seems likely that Disney is testing the waters to send more big-budget films to PVOD.
When asked about the possibility of Marvel’s Black Widow moving, Chapek admitted they’re very curious to see what happens with their first premium VOD release and if people are willing to shell out for the $29.99 price point. He then explained they plan to learn from Mulan in regard to future tentpoles potentially going right to Disney+ instead of getting a theatrical release. So…that’s not exactly a “yes” on Black Widow going to Disney+ but it’s not exactly a “no,” either. Consider it more of a “We’ll see.”
This speculation is corroborated by The Verge media reporter Julia Alexander:
Mulan‘s budget is around the $200 million mark, expensive for any tentpole, let alone one not going to theaters. Disney would need almost 6.7 million people in the U.S. to purchase Mulan at the $29.99 price point to make up the production budget alone. However, Disney will still be releasing Mulan overseas and in other markets where Disney+ is not available. It was stated on the same call that Disney+ now has 60.5 million paid subscribers. If even 10% of paid subscribers shell out for Mulan, it’s entirely possible that between international theatrical and domestic Disney+ rentals that Mulan will make back its budget and be profitable.
This will be an interesting situation to watch and could determine a great deal about the future of theatrical vs. streaming. In any case, it’s a relief to get a firm plan for Mulan, which has had a rough road in getting to its release date. It was originally set to release on March 27th, just before theaters everywhere shut down. It then got pushed to a July 24th release and then again to August 21st before being pulled off the schedule entirely. At this point, we’re just excited to see it.