Disney is slashing the age-old theatrical window to ribbons: The much-anticipated live-action remake of Mulan is skipping theaters in the U.S. and debuting on Disney+ on Friday, Sept. 4… for an additional $29.99 fee, that is.
The news was announced during Disney’s earnings call on Tuesday, our sister site Variety reports. Mulan — based on the 1998 animated film and starring Liu Yifei as the titular girl who poses as a boy to take her father’s place in China’s imperial army — was originally slated to be released in theaters back in March, but was delayed due to the global coronavirus pandemic. A new premiere date was announced and then moved back several more times, until it was removed from Disney’s release calendar altogether last month. (The film is still expected to premiere in theaters internationally.)
Mulan is one of the highest-profile theatrical films to go straight to a streaming service or VOD this year in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed more than 160,000 lives in the U.S. alone. The Tom Hanks-starring World War II drama Greyhound, once bound for theaters, premiered on Apple TV+ last month, while movies like Trolls World Tour and The Invisible Man became available on VOD months ahead of schedule.
Disney is upping the ante, though, with the hefty $29.99 price tag for Mulan. Other early VOD arrivals from major studios have been charging $19.99 at most for the convenience of watching a new Hollywood release from the comfort of your couch. But Disney CEO Bob Chapek emphasizes that this isn’t the start of a trend: “We’re looking at Mulan as a one-off, as opposed to saying there’s some new business windowing model that we’re looking at.”