In a shock move Disney has announced it will shift its $US200 million blockbuster live-action remake of Mulan to its streaming platform, Disney+.
The decision was revealed by Disney boss Bob Chapek during a company earnings call.
The streaming premiere will only be in countries in which Disney+ is available on September 4, which includes Australia, while Mulan will be released in cinemas in markets, such as China, where it is not.
However, unlike other films such as Artemis Fowl and Hamilton, Mulan will not be included in the monthly Disney+ subscription fee. It will incur an additional “premium rental” charge of $US29.99 for US customers.
There is no confirmation yet on how much Australian customers will expect to pay or the exact local release date.
Disney confirmed today its streaming service, launched in November 2019, has already amassed more than 60 million customers in the countries where it was rolled out.
Mulan, directed by New Zealander Niki Caro, was originally scheduled for release in late March and had already rolled out much of its marketing activities and held its Los Angeles and London premieres when the coronavirus pandemic delayed its cinematic run.
It was rescheduled for late August but growing cases in key territories such as the US has further delayed the reopening of cinemas.
Mulan has also found itself at the centre of a boycott movement due to its star Yifei Liu’s support for Chinese government action against Hong Kong.
Mr Chapek said on the earnings call that he didn’t expect Mulan will set a new standard for the entertainment company.
“We’re looking at Mulan as a one-off, as opposed to saying there’s some new business windowing model that we’re looking at,” he said.
“We find it very interesting to take a premiere offering to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it.”
The coronavirus pandemic has created chaos for traditional cinema releases and more and more titles are being released through alternative means.
Among the films which have had cinema releases converted into digital premieres include Tom Hanks WWII epic Greyhound, rom-com The Lovebirds, children’s movie Trolls World Tour (in the US only) and Artemis Fowl.
In Australia, Helen Reddy biopic I Am Woman, originally slated for cinemas, will now be released on streaming on Stan later this month.
Yesterday, rumours swirled that Disney is on the verge of inking a deal to sell Amy Adams thriller The Woman in the Window to Netflix.
Disney Australia has been contacted for comment.
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