Disney’s Live-Action “Mulan” Will Skip Theaters And Premiere On Disney+
The red carpet premiere for Disney’s live-action adaptation Mulan happened in Hollywood on March 9th, 2020. And then the COVID-19 lockdowns rolled in just a few days later, and Mulan disappeared faster than Li Shang’s name in the first draft of the script. Mulan was scheduled for release in theaters nationwide on March 27th, but the coronavirus made sure that didn’t happen. Every big release that was scheduled for 2020 has been put on hold, while studios pray for a box office miracle for whatever movie theaters still exist to open back up. But Disney clearly doesn’t want to play the waiting game like that, and they’ve decided to premiere Mulan onto their digital streaming service, Disney+.
Mulan, based on the 1998 animated film of the same name, felt like it was in development for ages, and it reportedly cost $200 million to make. And every live-action adaptation previous to Mulan has made Disney a whole lot of money. 2019’s The Lion King made $1.6 billion worldwide, 2017’s Beauty and The Beast made $1.2 billion worldwide. Mulan probably also would have brought in a big pile of dollars had Disney waited. But Variety is saying Mulan is dropping next month, and its profits will be coming from in-home purchases of $29.99.
Disney Plus now has over 60.5 million paying subscribers as of last month, just nine months after the launch of the direct-to-consumer streaming platform. And after several delays to its theatrical release date, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that Mulan will premiere on the service on a “premiere access” basis on Sept. 4 for $29.99. The film will be released theatrically in markets in which access to the movie on Disney Plus is not available.
So Mulan will make its way to theaters, just not American theaters. And Disney CEO Bob Chapek stresses that this isn’t how Disney will be rolling out films in the future. Only Mulan is getting the Disney+ dump. He’s also hoping that Mulan’s streaming-only situation will lure in new Disney+ subscribers (there’s currently over 60.5 million subscribers). That’s hopeful of them, especially since Disney just reported a 42% drop in quarterly revenue, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Help them Fa Mulan, you’re their only hope! Wait, wrong movie. Eh, it’s all owned by Disney anyway.
But while Disney is focusing on all the money Mulan might make them on Disney+, people on the internet have pointed out that it kind of sucks that a movie with a primarily Chinese cast, in which the lead character is a woman, directed by a woman, telling a story that doesn’t revolve around a princess finding her prince, is getting the direct-to-streaming treatment. And also, a bunch of people don’t love that $30 price tag.
The eternal optimist in me chooses to see the $30 silver lining here. It’s $30, but that’s way cheaper than taking a family of four to see it in theaters. You can bring your own snacks from the kitchen. And there’s no risk of sitting behind a Chatty Cathy who did no research beforehand. “Where’s the talking dragon Mushu? When will they start singing about getting down to business to defeat the huns? Did you ever try that Szechuan Sauce?”