Last month, Disney made the decision to release Mulan on its streaming service after the film’s theatrical release was delayed several times due to the coronavirus pandemic. The film was originally first scheduled to premiere in theaters on March 27th. The film was then moved to July 24th, then again to August 21st, and then the film was removed from Disney’s theatrical calendar entirely before the announcement was made that it would debut on Disney+ on September 4th as part of its “Premier Access” for $29.99.
Recently, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy spoke at the Citi 2020 Global Technology Conference and discussed the difficult decision to release Mulan on the streaming service citing the move was “not an easy decision” and that “there were so many factors at play here.”
With coronavirus still being a concern for moviegoers and with only 68% of movie theaters open within the United States, McCarthy addressed the decision to skip the film’s theatrical release:
“We know what the statistics are on consumer behavior when people are asked, ‘Would you go to a theater?’ It’s gone up a bit in the last month, but a lot of that has to do with what demographic you’re in. In general, if you look at that research, you’ll generally see that older people are less likely. Probably younger people — the same people who are doing things we see on the news shows that they probably shouldn’t be doing, and crowding and partying — they’re probably more likely to go to a theater. But would a family with young kids go? Probably not.”
She went on to say:
“at best 40%” of available audiences would have gone out to theaters. “A collateral benefit is what we saw in some additional new subscribers. But that wasn’t the driving force.”
During the conference, Christine McCarthy also confirmed that executives are “very pleased” with the results of Mulan’s Disney+ release validating other analyst reports that were released.
According to Bloomberg.com, Mulan caused a major spike in Disney+ downloads. The outlet states downloads of the streaming app rose 68% to 890,000 over Labor Day weekend. In addition to the surge in installations, consumer spending on the app climbed 193% to $12 million compared with a week earlier.
Disney’s next big theatrical release is Marvel’s Black Widow scheduled to hit theaters on November 6th. Fans are now wondering if Disney will release the film in the theater as intended, postpone the movie into 2021, or if Mulan’s number’s prove profitable, perhaps Disney will make the decision to release Black Widow on Disney+ also.