Mulan goes TVOD as Disney attempts to revive faltering movie business

Disney will follow other major movie studios in making its delayed blockbuster Mulan available to rent via Disney+.

Like other major movie studios, Disney has had to shelve its major cinematic releases, with Marvel movies The New Mutants and Black Widow both being pushed back to later in 2020.

Unfortunate timing meant that the live action version of Mulan, which had its European film premiere at the beginning of March, is yet to make it to theatres and has been pushed back multiple times.

While cinemas across the European continent are beginning to reopen, with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the US, Disney has made the call to launch Mulan on Disney+ on September 4.

Disney+, which launched in the US in November, has already amassed more than 60 million subscribers, the company has said.

However, unlike Hamilton, which was pulled from cinemas to the streaming service, Mulan will be Disney’s first experiment with TVOD via Disney+. The blockbuster film will set subscribers in the US back an additional US$29.99 in addition to their Disney+ subscription fee, and it remains unclear whether the film will in fact be available to non-subscribers.

The film will also be available via Disney+ in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and “a number of countries in Western Europe,” while also releasing theatrically in certain unnamed markets.

CEO Bob Chapek explained the move, saying: “Unfortunately, we’ve had to delay the release of Disney’s highly anticipated tentpole film Mulan a number of times due to the impact of COVID on theaters. In order to meet the needs of consumers during this unpredictable period, we thought it was important to find alternative ways to bring this exceptional family-friendly film to them in a timely manner.

“We see this as an opportunity to bring this incredible film to a broad audience currently unable to go to movie theaters, while also further enhancing the value and attractiveness of a Disney+ subscription with this great content.”

The CEO however said that this is unlikely to become a trend: “We’re looking at Mulan as a one-off in terms of, as opposed to trying to say that there is some new business window we model that we’re looking at.

“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.”

Overall operating income for Disney’s movie business fell by 16% to US$668 million.

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