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'Mulan' to be Released on Disney+ September 4, 2020, with a $29.99 Price Premium

Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 5:29 PM

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Disney's live-action version of Mulan has been one of a group of movies that has seen multiple release date changes as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Originally, the movie was to be released March 27, 2020, but most movie theaters shut down across the United States about two weeks earlier. It was then moved around a few times, but then completely removed from the release schedule on July 23.

Today, the studio announced that it would be releasing the movie on its Disney+ streaming service September 4, 2020 instead of going to theaters. Subscribers pay $6.99 per month for access to the movies and TV shows it offers, but if you want to watch Mulan, you'll need to pay another $29.99 for the pleasure.

This is big news for the industry, as Mulan is a fairly major title for the company, and bypassing the theatrical market says some things. What those things are remain to be seen, however.

Here are some possibilities:

  1. Disney has little confidence that theaters will reopen wide enough to release the movie in the forseeable future.
  2. Disney isn't sure that people will pay theatrical prices for their rebooted live-action remake of an animated classic (a la The Lion King).
  3. Disney is heading toward a streaming-only future, and this is the beginning of that effort. What better way to bolster the Disney+ service than to give it a high-profile release (even with a premium fee added)? It's an answer to the question of what Disney does to draw people to Disney+ now that Hamilton has been released.

Will You Pay $30 to Watch Mulan at Home?

The biggest question of all this is whether consumers are willing to pay a premium price to watch an A-list, new-release movie at home.

Like what was done with Trolls World Tour and Scoob! earlier this year, we've seen that kid-oriented movies can succeed going straight to premium streaming. However, those movies were offered on a wide variety of services, and this is going to be on Disney+ only. Those movies were $20 for a rental (with Scoob! offered for sale at $24.99), whereas this appears to be rental-only. Will the rental only be good for 48 hours? At this point, we don't know.

Some news coverage says that you will not need to be a current Disney+ subscriber in order to rent Mulan, but the service isn't set up that way right now, so it will be interesting to see how they change the service to make it possible. A good guess is that they will require a 'free' trial membership to the entire service in order to rent Mulan, and hope you will stay for the other selections, and then stay on as a paying subscriber.

This is a gamble for Disney. The movie reportedly cost $200 million to make. They will need to see a lot of $29.99 transactions to make that pay off!

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