Ever since it was announced that Disney's next big-budget remake, Mulan, will be debuting on Disney+ after a long and losing battle to be screened in theaters, fans of upcoming Disney movies have been speculating whether other major films produced under the banner of the Mouse Empire might soon be following suit. According to a tweet by Verge's Julia Alexander, the likelihood is very high.
"From a Disney+ source, re Chapek's comments on Mulan being a one-time deal: "We've put in enough work that it's not a one off."
Keep in mind that this statement flies directly in the face of what Disney CEO Bob Chapek stated earlier in connection to Mulan's debut on Disney+ being a one-off exercise.
"We're very pleased to bring Mulan to the consumer base who has been waiting for it. we're fortunate we have the opportunity to bring it to our own direct to consumer platform. but we're looking at Mulan as a one-off. That said, we find it interesting to be able to take a new offering to consumers and learn from it. Seeing the uptake of subscribers plus the number of transactions we get on the platform of that premium VOD offering."
While Chapek seems to be implying that Disney's interest in Mulan's performance on Disney+ will be purely academic, it makes sense that such a major departure from tradition as releasing a big-budget movie online instead of in theaters would not have been undertaken without their being at least some expectation that more films would be released in a similar manner if the earnings prove sizeable enough.
What this means is that much like the release of Tenet in theaters is being treated as a litmus test for all future theatrical releases by Hollywood, Disney is treating the VOD release of Mulan as a litmus test for the many other major movies sitting currently in their backlog, from Black Widow to The New Mutants.
While comic book movie fans have long been clamoring for Disney to release both movies on VOD already, it rests with general audiences to pay Disney enough money to watch Mulan to convince the Mouse Empire that a VOD release can replace a full theatrical release for big-budget films. Right now, The New Mutants is planning an exclusive theatrical engagement starting August 28th, with not PVOD release announced. Black Widow is sticking to its November 6th theatrical window, and it's known that it will not debut exclusively on PVOD or Disney+, and least not right away. That could all change, but for now, it appears that Disney wants to keep its Marvel characters premiering on the big screen. Of course, as we've seen plenty of times this summer, these plans could change at any minute.
On that front, there is already some resistance on social media against the $30 price tag attached to viewing Mulan, aside from having to sign up for a Disney+ subscription. The fact is, the original animation Mulan was nowhere near as popular as Disney's Lion King, Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast, so interest in the live-action adaptation is also correspondingly lower. The live-action Mulan will have to stand largely on its own feet instead of relying on nostalgia in order to generate positive word-of-mouth and bring in big money for the studio.
Directed by Niki Caro, Disney's Mulan features Yifei Liu in her Hollywood debut as Mulan, with a supporting cast comprising of Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan and Yoson An as Cheng Honghui, with Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor.