Disney has decided to release its highly anticipated live-action remake of Mulan on Disney+. While fans are happy that the repeatedly-delayed film is finally going to be released, Deadline reports that many theaters distributors are unhappy with Disney's decision, with one distributor describing the move as a "fuck you to exhibitors." Phil Clapp, who is the head of the UK Cinema Association, has also expressed that he feels the Mouse Empire's strategy regarding Mulan is a step backward:
"While no one underestimates the challenges facing studio colleagues, at a time when many operators are showing faith in our business by investing in the safeguards necessary to re-open, we need the major studios - and film distributors in general - to do the same."
Even as the importance of VOD and online streaming has increased following the lockdown, theater chains have been floundering in the new era of social distancing. Tentpole movies like Mulan, Tenet, and Black Widow were seen as a crucial means of getting audiences to return to theaters, which, Clapp points out, still provides the best means of watching a blockbuster movie.
"It will deprive hundreds of thousands of cinema-goers of the chance to see such an impressive film in the best possible environment, the cinema theatre."
"'With cinemas across the UK now continuing to re-open and welcome back their customers, the decision by Disney yesterday to put Mulan on their Disney+ service and not into cinemas will be seen by many as hugely disappointing and mistimed."
"While there may be continued issues in parts of the U.S. with the re-opening of cinemas, in other markets around the world, including the UK, cinemas are open and ready both for new films and the audiences that want to watch them"
In turn, Disney has sent a letter to British cinemas explaining that Mulan's release via VOD was not a decision they took lightly, but was necessitated by the current state of the world
"[The lockdown] has disrupted large parts of the content pipeline and markets are in vastly different situations right now, and after delaying the global theatrical debut multiple times, we are subsequently taking a tailored approach to this release."
Disney CEO Bob Chapek has declared that Mulan's VOD release is a one-time event. But rumors abound that the company is seriously considering sending more of their high-profile projects the online streaming route if Mulan proves to be a sufficiently big earner. That means other big-budget movies like Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984 are edging closer to having a VOD release, leaving theater chains with even less new content to offer audiences.
With Niki Caro helming the live-action remake of Disney's classic animation, Mulan stars Yifei Liu as Mulan, 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+ on Sept. 4. This story originated at Deadline.