The release of Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan on its own streaming platform Disney+ has been labelled as ‘frankly bewildering’ and strongly criticised by the body representing British Cinemas.
The announcement came this week that Mulan has finally confirmed its release date, having suffered a number of postponements owing to the lockdown measures taken around the world in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the temporary closure of cinemas. The live-action take on the animated film will now land on September 4th.
However, the film won’t be released in cinemas, but straight to Disney’s own streaming platform, Disney+ at the cost of a Premium Access fee for viewers. This means that those wanting to watch the movie will have to pay a cost of $29.99 (around £23) on top of their Disney+ subscription fee to do so.
While Disney’s boss, Bob Chapek has heralded the move as an achievement for the studio and fans, stating that Disney is “very pleased to bring Mulan to the consumer base who has been waiting for it,” and indicating that this form of release for major feature films will be a one-off for Mulan, the move has been strongly opposed by UK cinema owners who have reason to believe that the film will follow the same release format here.
The UK Cinema Association’s chief executive, Phil Clapp has said that any plans of Disney to do so will be a ‘step backwards rather than forwards for many.’
“With cinemas across the UK now continuing to re-open and welcome back their customers, the decision by Walt Disney Studios yesterday to put Mulan on their Disney+ service and not into cinemas will be seen by many as hugely disappointing and mistimed,” he said.
Disney’s Bob Chapek said the cost of Premium Access to view Mulan would vary in other countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Western Europe. But Disney has not confirmed its plans for the UK.
The Association’s Clapp said: “Rather than playing a great new family film in the best place possible to see it, the cinema theatre, audiences are instead being encouraged to stay home and pay a premium price to watch it.”
Although around 40 per cent of UK cinemas are reported to have reopened, many cinemagoers have not returned. Last weekend’s box office takings were just 3 per cent of the total on the same weekend last year. Many were optimistic that the release of the blockbuster film Mulan would bring them a much-needed customer boost following the lockdown measures.