Disney has launched a daring new plan to send one of its most high-profile movies, the big-budget live-action remake of Mulan, straight to streaming on Disney+, forgoing a theatrical release entirely. Subscribers will be able to watch the movie as many times as they like, provided they are willing to pay a one-time fee of $29.99. According to Twitter polls run by ComicBook.com and Variety, most audience members are not interested in taking the deal.
In both the polls, close to 85% of the respondents voted 'No' regarding whether they would be willing to purchase Mulan online for $29.99. This is in keeping with several recent posts on Twitter by people complaining about the high price point for renting the movie, which also requires getting a DIsney+ subscription costing a monthly $6.99.
The thing to remember is that the internet is not representative of the attitudes of general audiences, many of whom are not invested enough in the issue to participate in online polls but would still fork over cash for any new offering from the Mouse Empire.
At the end of the day, the fact remains that Mulan is not very high on the must-see list of Disney fans, considering the original animated movie was itself not as big a hit as The Lion King or Aladdin, so interest in the live-action movie is also lower.
The live-action Mulan is also facing a certain resistance online due to criticism faced by lead actress Yifei Liu from certain sections of society in her home country of China, which has even led to calls to boycott the movie on social media.
Keeping all these factors in mind, it will be interesting to see how Disney's experiment with releasing a big-budget movie online will fare, and if the exercise will ultimately prove to be worth angering theater chains the world over. If Mulan defies the odds, and winds up earning a lot of money for the company, then expect to see more such blockbusters going the VOD route, from Black Widow to Wonder Woman 1984.
Directed by Niki Caro, Disney's Mulan stars Yifei Liu as the lead character of Mulan, a young girl in ancient China who takes the place of her father in the army, and undergoes a brutal rite of passage as she learns what it takes to become a battle-hardened warrior. The remake is said to have moved away from the musical aspects of the original animated movie, into the territory of old-fashioned 'wuxia' martial arts fantasy movies, with elaborate wirework in the action scenes, the likes of which have been seen in The Matrix and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in the past.
The rest of the cast of Mulan comprises 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. The film arrives on Disney+ and in select theaters on Sept. 4.