The news that Mulan will be bypassing theaters entirely (in most regions, at least) and heading exclusively to Disney Plus for a one-off fee has generated a more mixed reaction than you might have initially expected. While larger families seem happy to shell out the $29.99 based on the fact that it works out a whole lot cheaper than buying movie tickets for everyone, some single-member households with a subscription feel like they’re getting overcharged.
Then there’s those who own and operate the theaters themselves, who’ve been holding out hope that big budget projects like Mulan and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet would give the industry a shot in the arm and draw audiences back in huge numbers after months of having their doors locked firmly shut. But now, one of the year’s biggest releases is heading straight to streaming and many chains are pretty unhappy about the decision. And understandably so.
The UK Cinema Association released a statement regarding Disney’s decision to release Mulan straight to their in-house streaming platform, and with theaters in the country in the midst of a phased reopening, they’ve made it clear that the Mouse House’s choice could be a major setback for trying to get the theatrical experience back on its feet.
“While no one under-estimates the challenges facing studio colleagues, at a time when many operators are showing faith in our business by investing in the safeguards necessary to re-open, we need the major studios, and film distributors in general, to do the same. First and foremost, it will deprive hundreds of thousands of cinema-goers of the chance to see such an impressive film in the best possible environment, the cinema theater. With cinemas across the UK now continuing to re-open and welcome back their customers, the decision by Disney yesterday to put Mulan on their Disney+ service and not into cinemas will be seen by many as hugely disappointing and mistimed.”
As one of the most hotly-anticipated blockbusters of the year, charging 60 million subscribers $29.99 to watch Mulan still stands to make Disney an awful lot of money, and by avoiding theaters completely, they won’t have to share any of the profits, either. As such, you can completely understand why the struggling industry would have such an issue with the studio cutting their legs out from under them like this.