by Brandon Butler
Disney Announces Mulan is Skipping Theaters as a $30 Disney+ Rental 8/4/2020

Adam Vary for Variety:

In another major blow to movie theaters, Disney announced “Mulan” will forgo its planned theatrical release. Instead, the live-action remake is premiering on Disney Plus on Sept. 4 for a premium rental price.

The company believes that the release of the action epic will help drive subscribers while serving as a valuable test case to determine how much of their hard-earned cash customers are willing to part with in order to watch a movie that was originally intended to debut exclusively in cinemas.

Unlike the rest of the content available on Disney Plus, “Mulan” won’t be available directly to subscribers. Consumers in the U.S. and other territories will have to pay $29.99 to rent the movie on top of the streaming service’s monthly subscription fee of $6.99. In markets where Disney Plus isn’t available, “Mulan” will play in cinemas.

An interesting price. You are already paying $7 (sans any bundles or deals) for Disney+, and now you’re being asked to pay an additional $30. (Feels like being back in the parks, amiright?)

For a family of four with a nice home theater setup, this is a great deal at $9.25 for each “ticket” — but the math starts to look bad as the family size decreases. A couple is paying $18.50 each — or the price of two very fancy movie theater tickets, but still less than a night out at the theater with sodas, popcorn, and/or candy. Someone watching alone, for instance, is paying the full $37. Ouch.

I guess your interest in paying $37 for a movie rental — and however you intend to divide the price — depends on your interest in seeing a live action remake of Mulan. I’m not sure I’d want to spend that on this particular movie (the live action remakes have, so far, been a disappointment across the board for me) but for something like Avengers Endgameor even Spider-Man 3: Stuck at Home (I think that’s a working title) I’d probably pay it to avoid the theater, crowds, and — oh, right — death. For those of us skipping this particular $30 rental, Mulan should release on Disney+ for everyone else about 90 days later.

I like that Disney CEO Bob Chapek is using the old “It’s just a one time thing” line. Surrrre it is, Bob. And I’m going to have just one churro the next time I’m at Disneyland. Surrrre. I’m curious if Universal and AMC’s announcement last week had anything to do with Disney having the confidence to push this forward, and if AMC and the theaters are getting a cut of the thirty bucks. (Sounds unlikely this go-around.)

Also, what’s with this “another blow to theaters” bit? The theaters are not getting an audience anytime soon, and it’s not because a couple of films — with Mulan arguably the biggest to date — are skipping the cinema. Disney could have said “we’re releasing Mulan in theaters on September 4th,” and the headline on September 5th would have still been “In another blow to theaters, nobody shows up to see Mulan”. Theaters are suffering for one reason, and one reason alone: an out of control pandemic is killing thousands of people each day in this country, and the government is too incompetent to do anything about it. Variety, get your reporting straight.