The entertainment industry looks wildly different than it did a year ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic has made the production and release of a lot of different pieces of media more difficult. With movie theaters closed or closing throughout the country, the theatrical moviegoing experience has been particularly affected, and studios have been forced to delay their projects or release them through other means. One of the most surprising instances of that this year has been Disney's live-action remake of Mulan, which was released via a special paid "Premier Access" tier to Disney+ subscribers earlier this year. During the company's most recent quarterly earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek hinted that Premier Access might not be a fluke.
"There's going to be a role for it strategically in our portfolio of offerings," Chapek explained.
What exactly this means will remain to be seen, especially given the company's business decisions in recent months. While many speculated that Marvel's Black Widow would be the next Premier Access offering, the film has since been given a new theatrical release date for May 7, 2021. Granted, that debut could always change again depending on the status of the pandemic at that point, either by delaying the release date once again or just offering the film through Premier Access.
On the flip side is Disney/Pixar's Soul, which was pulled from a theatrical release and confirmed to be releasing on Disney+ last month. Unlike Mulan, Soul will be available to the basic tier subscribers of Disney+, without the additional Premier Access pricing.
"We are thrilled to share Pixar's spectacular and moving Soul with audiences direct to Disney+ in December," Chapek said in a statement at the time. "A new original Pixar film is always a special occasion, and this truly heartwarming and humorous story about human connection and finding one's place in the world will be a treat for families to enjoy together this holiday season."
Whether or not Premier Access could ultimately be the home for other upcoming Disney theatrical releases remains to be seen.
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