The initial estimates for Mulan are in, and while the movie might be struggling in its theatrical run internationally, it seems to have scored and absolutely massive "opening weekend" on Disney+. According to the analytics research firm 7Park Data, more than 25% of U.S. households that subscribe to Disney+ sprung for the $30 price tag to purchase Mulan last week -- making it the most watched item on the platform by a wide margin. And since Disney doesn't have to share that revenue with theatrical exhibitors, it means the gross revenue they took in likely far exceeds what they would have made with a traditional release.
One estimate suggests that there are around 30 million U.S. Disney+ subscribers, so if the reported 29% of users really did pay to watch Mulan, that translates to a $260+ million opening frame. If a movie were to gross that at the box office, it would place #2 on the all time domestic openings list (just a hair ahead of Avengers: Infinity War) -- and again, that would mean sharing the revenue with theaters.
Disney has not yet revealed their official numbers -- and likely won't, unless they happen to come out during a shareholder call. Streaming services are notoriously secretive about the exact views and revenue generated by online media.
Assuming the numbers are real, that doesn't mean the end of cinemas as we know them -- at least not yet. The Mulan situation is still an outlier. Almost every mainstream blockbuster set to be released this year ended up being delayed until next year, and the few that went to streaming -- Trolls World Tour, Bill and Ted Face the Music -- ended up with huge numbers on in-home viewing.
They also came out with virtually no competition to speak of, though -- and in the case of both Bill and Ted and Mulan, they hit after the summer movie season had been effectively cancelled, giving fans another reason to buy in: they knew there was no chance of waiting a couple weeks and getting something cooler at Movie Tavern.
The movie, an adaptation of the classic Chinese poem by way of the 1998 Disney animated movie, centers on a young woman who secretly takes the place of her aging father when he is drafted into military service, making it necessary to hide her identity and her gender to everyone around her in order to save her family and embrace her destiny.
North American critics have given the film solid, but not extraordinary, reviews, with a lot of the criticism falling on a weak script that was elevated by solid direction and performances.