CLEVELAND, Ohio — Disney has decided to stop playing calendar roulette with “Mulan” and release the film straight to Disney+ instead of theaters.
The live-action movie, loosely based on the 1998 animated classic, was originally supposed to arrive on the big screen in March. The coronavirus pandemic upended those plans and the film bounced around on the release schedule until the studio pulled it indefinitely last month.
But during an earnings call Tuesday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the movie would be available to Disney+ subscribers on September 4 for, gulp, $29.99.
“Like many companies, we’ve had to find innovative ways to conduct our business during the pandemic,” he said. “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.”
He added “Mulan” will be released theatrically in countries where Disney+ isn’t available and theaters are open.
Counting “Artemis Fowl” and “Hamilton,” this is the third time since the start of the pandemic Disney has moved a theatrical release to its streaming service. Those movies, however, were included in the $6.99 monthly subscription price.
Still, subscribers who pay the extra $29.99 for “Mulan” will be able to watch the film as often as they wish, unlike typical video-on-demand rentals, which come with both a steep price tag and short time window to view it.
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So, what does this mean for future tentpole releases like “Black Widow,” which has been sitting on the shelf since April?
“We’re looking at ‘Mulan’ as a one-off as opposed to saying that there’s some new business windowing model that we’re looking at,” Chapek said. “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.”
With the release of “Mulan” now settled, all eyes will be focused on Warner Bros. to see if Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” actually makes its Sept. 3. release date in the U.S.