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Mulan Releases To All Disney+ Subscribers For Free in December

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Disney's Mulan will become available to all Disney+ subscribers in December. The film, a live-action remake of Disney's 1998 animated classic of the same name, has had a continuously shifting release date. Like every big theatrical release in 2020, Mulan faced delays due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The film had its premiere on March 9, 2020, and was originally set to have its wide release on March 27. However, with social distancing guidelines in place and the closure of movie theaters around the world, the film was delayed. First to July 2020 and then again to August, before Disney removed it from their release schedule altogether.

Disney then announced Mulan would be available for purchase on Disney+ starting on September 4, 2020. The film would also release theatrically in markets where cinemas are allowed to operate and where Disney+ isn't available. The film will cost a relatively steep $30 on the streaming platform, but it would be a permanent purchase, not a rental. There was widespread speculation on when the film would be available for free on Disney+. Based on the release of films like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Frozen II, it was safe assumption that Disney+ wouldn't see a free version of Mulan on the streaming platform until mid-2021, but that does not appear to be the case.

According to the pre-order page for the movie, Mulan will release for all Disney+ subscribers on December 4, 2020. This news marks the fastest that a major film has gone from its theatrical release to being streamed (for free) on Disney+, with only three months between the two. You can see a screenshot of Mulan's Disney+ page, below:

While the announcement of Mulan's direct-to-Disney+ release has been good for Disney stock, the reception from both fans and theater-owners has been mixed. With movie theaters already being one of the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic, theater owners have been particularly upset by Disney's release plans for Mulan. Fans have also expressed their disappointment, citing how similar Disney blockbusters like Black Widow will still have a typical theatrical release (Disney has stated that they intend Mulan's Disney+ release to be a one-off, although who knows what will happen if it is a success), arguing that locking Mulan behind a paywall is a determent to the film and its intended audience. Given that Mulan will be the first Disney-branded film will an all Asian cast, making the film less accessible at open seems like a step backward for representation in Hollywood.

Disney's decision to release a major film on its streaming service so soon after its theatrical window is unprecedented. Depending on how successful the film is at bringing in new Disney+ subscribers, this decision could pose huge implications for the future of cinemas and release structures. Given how close its non-Premiere Access release will be to its theatrical one, there is a pretty good chance that this will negatively affect Mulan's theatrical sales. There are many arguments for why Mulan wouldn't work on Disney+, but given how unprecedented this whole situation is, no one can really predict how successful the film will or won't be. Given how many theaters around the world can't operate at full capacity, and major cities in the U.S. like New York and Los Angeles still aren't allowing theaters to open, distributors have to find new ways to deliver their films to consumers. It is unknown whether or not we will eventually return to a typical release structure, but the success or failure of Mulan on Disney+ will certainly be a important factor for future cinema releases.

Mulan (2020)
Release Date: Sep 04, 2020


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