Whether or not Mulan worked as a $30 release requiring Disney+ membership, only to be later made available to everybody else without the tie-in restriction, the release strategy was unpopular with Disney+ subscribers (see: The Disney+ Mulan Premium Digital Launch Fiasco)
At the time in the post linked, we hoped there wouldn’t be more of these premium VOD releases from streaming channels. I pretty much hate the idea. It just seems like we’re being gouged by what we thought was an all-you-can-watch unlimited service. It’s like when buffet restaurants started charging for add-ons like desserts and steak. No wonder most of them are gone, save for inside casinos.
Do we really want HBO Max++ (intentional extra plus) that require $20-30+ to watch a new movie?
From a studio content standpoint, we were very pleased with the results of Mulan as a premier access title,” Chapek said on an earnings call Thursday, while seemingly admitting that the controversy around the film damaged its performance: “Unfortunately, that title met with some controversy, both in the U.S. and internationally, shortly after we released it. But we saw enough very positive results before that controversy started to know that we’ve got something here in terms of the premier access strategy. And I think we’ll talk a little bit more about that at the investor conference in December.”Disney CEO hints more PVOD Disney+ releases on the way after Mulan | EW.com
Disney seems to have liked this model, at least from a financial standpoint, seeing it as one path forward without theatrical release.
I think a better solution is to go day and date for most new movies, even if the theater only shows it for a week or two. I’m not suggesting every new movie, there needs to be some sort of filtering in place, but for featured movies on each streaming platform giving movie lovers the chance to see them in theaters makes sense. I realize the theater chains need to get on board first. Two of the three already are (see: Cinemark Cuts Similar Deal as AMC with Universal for Shortened Theatrical Window)
There is a lot of irony that Universal is the studio most supporting movie theaters during the last few months while Disney has largely delayed or took their titles streaming. Warner Bros. took a huge gamble on Tenet and is trying to figure out what to do with Wonder Woman 1984 next month. Every day that the pandemic seems to flare up further in the United States, it suggests they will delay it until Spring or Summer 2021.
Obviously 2020 has been a cursed year on many fronts, but with the vaccines coming soon hopefully and a great selection of movies planned for 2021 it can and will get better. I don’t know if AMC will still be around, but the other two theater chains seem poised to survive well into 2021.