Because the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic has made it unsafe for many movie theatres to open themselves to the public, Disney made the interesting choice of pushing its much-delayed Mulan remake straight to its Disney+ streaming service. But unlike other movies to recently premiere on VOD, Mulan comes with an extra $35 price tag on top of the Disney subscription cost.
While Disney hasn’t explained the specific reasoning why Mulan’s Disney+ debut comes at the sort of premium that, say, Artemis Fowl did not, it stands to reason that the studio always intended for the former to be a much bigger box office hit, and it’s seeking to recoup at least some of that potential cash from audiences. From a consumer perspective, however, it’s easy to see the move as Disney demanding its subscribers forking over more cash because…well, that’s what it is. But for those who would rather not further line Mickey’s pockets — beyond what they already pay for Disney+ an alternative is on the horizon.
As The Verge points out, the Disney+ website describes Mulan’s September 4 premiere as being a “Premiere Access” product, but by December 4, the movie will be available to all subscribers for no additional cost. Disney giving itself a three month window to upcharge Disney+ subscribers for immediate access to one of its movies feels decidedly similar to the theatrical run deals that movie theatres enjoy ahead of films’ digital and physical releases, at least. It’s just like being there!
One imagines that this is exactly the sort of business model theatre owners would really like Disney to not get into the habit of relying on, as it would cut them out of the game almost entirely — but Disney’s made no indication that it intends to keep going this route in the future. But in these extraordinary times, where it truly isn’t clear if and when it’s going to be safe to return to whatever sort of normalcy there is to be had in the wake of this pandemic, it’s difficult not to imagine a future in which movies like Black Widow and other projects once meant to be seen in theatres are instead being streamed right into our homes in a similar manner.
Mulan hits Disney+ on September 4.