Walt Disney Pictures’s Mulan will premiere on Disney Plus on September 4 after months of scheduling delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally scheduled to drop on March 27, Mulan is a live-action remake of the 1998 animated film, which was Oscar nominated for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score. The reimagining is directed by Niki Caro and stars Chinese actor Liu Yifei. The film did have a lavish Hollywood premiere in early March, and the buzz coming out of that event was very high on the film, particularly on Yifei and supporting cast members Gong Li and Tzi Ma (playing Mulan’s father).
One catch on the Disney Plus premiere – Mulan will not be available to standard subscribers. Instead, current subscribers will need to pay $29.99 to screen the film. It’s not the first time a premiere has dropped through the VOD model this year. Universal’s Trolls World Tour entered the VOD market at a $19.99 price point, more in line with other high profile releases this year including The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma. The latter three screened in theaters before closing due to the pandemic.
Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek indicated today during a quarterly earnings call that this decision does not indicate a new distribution model for the company. Still, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where, in the next several months, people feel safe to return to movie theaters given the spread of COVID-19. Mulan will screen in theaters where Disney Plus is not available.
Warner Bros. has yet to officially announce a release strategy for Tenet, the other oft-delayed high profile 2020 release, outside of an oversees launch early this fall.