Disney will release Mulan, its forthcoming premium VOD attraction, to Disney+ subscribers paying an extra $30 for it via Apple, Roku and Google platforms in addition to Disney’s own website.
Earlier this month, the company revealed its plans for the major title during its quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts, ending feverish speculation about the company’s COVID-19 strategy. It said it would allow Disney+ subscribers to unlock “premier access” to the film on September 4 “on select platforms,” but did not identify those partner entities.
Amazon Fire TV is not on the list of confirmed distribution outlets. The tech platform also was a holdout on Disney+ when it launched last fall, though it wound up reaching a deal to carry the $7-a-month service. HBO Max and Peacock, two new streaming entrants, are not currently available on either Amazon or Roku, which combined reach more than 80 million U.S. homes.
Involving third parties means sharing a cut of each transaction, typically ranging from 20% to 30%, which will reduce Disney’s proceeds at a sensitive time. Given the importance of customer satisfaction with such a high-profile offering, though, that sacrifice in revenue could be worth it for a more seamless experience. “The implication,” LightShed Partners analyst Rich Greenfield tweeted, “is Disney+ subscribers will be able to use in-app purchase on Apple, Google and Roku devices rather than having to buy on Disneyplus.com and then return to the device of choice.”
Instead of replicating the move of Hamilton to Disney+ last month as an enticement for new streaming subscribers able to watch the feature for free, Disney opted to add the $30 charge. The company has not indicated when regular subscribers to Disney+ will be able to see Mulan, which cost an estimated $300 million to make and market, as part of their subscriptions. The live-action remake of Disney’s animated film is getting a theatrical release in certain territories, though not enough to bring in the $1 billion-plus at the box office than more than a dozen 2019 Disney releases grossed.
“We thought we would give it a try,” CEO Bob Chapek reasoned, “to try to recapture some of that investment that we’ve got.” He called the move a “one-off” and “a chance to learn.” At a $30 price point, the company could recoup a good amount of its investment, plus a major new title “also acts as a fairly large stimulus to sign up for Disney+.”
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