Catastrophic Disney losses lead to unusual Mulan release
August 6, 2020 - After a chaotic year of changing release dates, Disney has made the unusual decision to forgo cinemas and release its live-action remake of Mulan on its new streaming service, Disney+, but for an additional fee.
Disney's Mulan, a live-action remake of the 1998 animated classic, has had its fair share of problems. In development since 2010, it was originally planned for release in 2018, but a protracted search for a Chinese leading lady put paid to that.
When they eventually found actress Liu Yifei to play Mulan, and after shooting had wrapped, she mouthed off on social media site Weibo that she supported the Hong Kong police during pro-democracy protests, causing a global call for the forthcoming movie to be boycotted.
Eventually, Mulan had its world premiere at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 9, 2020, only for global lockdowns to begin as Covid-19 spread around the world.
The film's release was subsequently postponed three times until finally being yanked from the 2020 calendar altogether.
Now, Disney has announced Mulan will air on September 4 (the Labor Day long weekend in the United States), on Disney+, bypassing a theatrical release. Unusually, they intend to charge viewers an additional one-off fee of $30 (this on top of the $70 annual subscription cost). Slightly confusingly, viewers will own the movie, but only so long as they subscribe to Disney+.
The pandemic has devastated Disney’s theme parks, live productions and cruise line businesses around the world, leading them to post catastrophic third fiscal quarter losses of $4.72 billion for the three months ending June, 2020.
Disney+ subscribers have soared to more than 60 million members worldwide during the pandemic, one of the few areas of business to be working well for Disney. Now it seems they are looking to leverage extra income out of this solid base by charging a fee for Mulan. However, it is a risky experimental strategy which is dividing opinion and could ultimately harm the image of Disney+.
- Disney has no idea what it's doing with 'Mulan' (Engadget)
- Disney shakes up streaming approach after losing nearly $5 billion due to pandemic (MarketWatch)
- Disney earnings plummeted in its third quarter. Blame COVID-19 (Los Angeles Times)
- Liu Yifei: ‘Mulan’ boycott urged after star backs HK police (BBC)
- The Walt Disney Co (YCharts)