Disney’s live action remake of Mulan finally has an official release date, and if you live in a country that has Disney+ you won’t have to leave the house to watch it. The movie will be available for streaming on Disney+ on Sept. 4, although with a catch: it’ll cost you an extra $29.99. It’s like ordering an on demand movie through a streaming service you’re already subscribed to. If you’re in a country that doesn’t have Disney+, and where theaters have reopened safely, you’ll be able to watch it in a theater starting that same day.
Mulan isn’t the only Disney movie to have its original theatrical release scuttled by the pandemic, but it is the first one that will premiere on Disney+ for an additional fee. Black Widow, a Marvel movie that was supposed to open in May, is currently scheduled for a Nov. 6 theatrical release date, which seems highly optimistic given how the pandemic has turned out. Meanwhile The New Mutants, whose absurd delays will almost definitely result in a book about the movie’s development, is still on the calendar with an August 28 release, which obviously seems even less likely to happen. Neither movie seems poised to follow Mulan’s digital release plan.
Is $30 too much for a movie rental? It would be for a second-run film, but this will be Mulan’s debut. A night for two at a movie theater will almost definitely set you back over $30, and considerably more so for a family. So if you compare Mulan’s Disney+ release to its originally planned theatrical run, $30 could be a bargain, depending on how many people are in your household. Of course, you don’t get the theater experience, but not everybody appreciates that, anyway.
Disney announced the news during its third quarter 2020 earnings call, where they revealed how severely the pandemic has damaged their theme park business. Despite those losses, the company’s stock rose after the call, buoyed in part by a higher-than-expected number of Disney+ subscribers. Maybe those numbers are why they felt comfortable releasing Mulan direct through the app? If this experiment goes well, it’s possible we could see more movies skipping the theater and going straight to streaming pay-per-view—even once the pandemic is over with.