Yesterday brought the surprise announcement from The Walt Disney Company that the previously delayed live-action remake of Mulan will be released very soon and it will arrive on the Disney+ streaming platform, but at an additional cost. As part of the announcement, Disney confirmed the film will be available on Disney+ in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a number of countries in Western Europe for the cost of $29.99 in the U.S., in addition to a Disney+ subscription. This news has not only got some Disney fans unhappy, there are theatrical exhibitors in the UK that are apparently none too pleased either.
According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association Phil Clapp sent a letter to all of their members which partially reads: ”With cinemas across the UK now continuing to reopen and welcome back their customers, the decision by Walt Disney Studios yesterday to put Mulan on their Disney+ service and not into cinemas will be seen by many as hugely disappointing and mistimed. Rather than playing a great new family film in the best place possible to see it, the cinema theatre, audiences are instead being encouraged to stay home and pay a premium price to watch it."
He continued, "For many this will seem a step backwards rather than forward. A trip to the cinema to see one of the event family films of the year would have been hugely popular, successful and a welcome escape for many after months of restrictions on out of home entertainment. It would also have provided a much needed boost for both audiences and cinemas who need a supply of new films after Christopher Nolan’s Tenet hits cinemas at the end of August."
THR notes that a letter was sent by Disney to British exhibitors as an apology for their decision, writing: "Given that COVID-19 has disrupted large parts of the content pipeline and markets are in vastly different situations right now, and after delaying the global theatrical debut multiple times, we are subsequently taking a tailored approach to this release."
Luckily for these UK exhibitors, for the time being Mulan is the only film that Disney intends to release under this premium umbrella, that is unless it's a huge success for the company.
"We're looking at Mulan as a one-off in terms of – you know, as opposed to, say, trying to say that there's some new business windowing model that we're looking at," Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek said. "So, Mulan is a one-off. That said, we find it very interesting to be able to take a new offering, our premier access offering, to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it and see what happens not only in terms of the uptake of the number of subscribers that we get on the platform but the actual number of transactions on the Disney+ platform that we get on that PVOD offering.
Mulan will be available on Friday, September 4.