When the world went into lockdown at around March of this year to stave off the upsurge in positive cases of COVID-19, optimistic estimates hoped that by mid-2020 there would be some degree of control over the spread to allow the suddenly-halted world economy to recuperate. Those hopes have been dashed by continuously rising infections, severely hobbling quarters like the motion picture industry that still cannot do wide releases of their scheduled-but-delayed films. Some studios have taken a shortcut in premiering their movies on digital streaming. Disney also looks to be following this direction, and with one of the most-anticipated blockbusters of 2020 to boot.
CNN reports that Disney has announced the release of their live-action “Mulan” remake for next month. The problem is that, in the US, it means it will arrive on their exclusive streaming platform Disney+ and not in cinemas. Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the slight change in plans just this Tuesday, August 4, about “Mulan” from director Niki Caro being premiered on Disney+ for September 4. In addition, rather than being part of the content available with any subscription plan, Disney+ subscribers will have to pay an extra $29.99 fee just to stream the film.
The reasons for this extreme measure for the US market are rather plain. Chapek issued the statement about streaming “Mulan” during Disney’s third quarter earnings call, where it was revealed that the media and entertainment giant suffered a near $5 billion loss for Q3. Disney+ was therefore an “alternative way” to bring the upcoming film to viewers without having to suffer more losses with another postponement due to no US cinemas daring to open during the pandemic. Besides, fans would have been waiting long enough.
If there is any portion of good news to this development, then it is that “Mulan” on Disney+ will only be released in that manner at locations where Disney+ is already available. In countries and territories where the exclusive streaming service has not reached yet, then the movie will open in cinemas, provided that local safety regulations have allowed their theaters to open Bob Chapek also assured the public that Disney’s decision to just stream “Mulan” on Disney+ where available is a one-off decision. Circumstances were different for the Disney+ release of the recorded performance of the “Hamilton” musical (scheduled to premiere cinematically in 2021 anyway), and the case of “Mulan” is still an experiment where other upcoming Disney and affiliated studio productions are concerned.
“Mulan” stars Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Gong Li and Jet Li, and is a recursive adaptation of the 1998 Disney animated classic (based on a Chinese folktale) which featured the voice talents of Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, BD Wong and Pat Morita.
Image courtesy of Variety