For Disney Plus subscribers who don’t want to pay an extra $30 to watch Mulan when it drops on September 4th, the company has announced it will be free to all customers on December 4th.
A new description on Mulan’s Disney Plus page notes that it will be available to all subscribers on December 4th, 2020. An FAQ page for Mulan on Disney Plus also states that “Premier Access offer will be available until November 2, 2020,” but it’s unclear exactly what that means for people who want to purchase Mulan between November 2nd and December 4th. The Verge has reached out to Disney for more information.
With just three months between the film’s initial release and when it becomes available to general subscribers, Mulan has one of the shortest windows in Disney history. Usually it takes many months before a film moves from a theatrical release to Disney Plus, but much like everything else right now, things are changing as Disney learns to adapt.
Disney announced that Mulan would become a streaming exclusive in August during an earnings call. Disney CEO Bob Chapek told analysts that executives “thought it was important to find alternative ways to bring [Mulan] out in a timely manner.” Countries where Disney Plus exists will therefore get Mulan exclusively via Disney Plus. Other countries, including China, where the film was always expected to perform best, will have Mulan available to them as a theatrical release.
“We’re very pleased to be able to bring Mulan to our consumer base that has been waiting for it for a long, long time as we’ve had to unfortunately move our theatrical date several times,” Chapek said on an earnings call.
Mulan’s Disney Plus debut is an experiment for the House of Mouse. It’s unlikely to generate the same kind of revenue that a movie of its size would with a full theatrical release, but revenue isn’t the only goal. Mulan will also, Disney hopes, bring in subscribers — and keep them. Customers who purchase Mulan will have access to it forever, as long as they’re subscribed to Disney Plus. Right now, they can’t use services like Movies Everywhere to move the film to some other storage area. By asking people to spend $30 on a film, and then ensuring they can only keep it while subscribed to Disney Plus, the company will try to reduce its churn rate, aka the number of people who cancel their subscriptions.
For Disney, Mulan is a bit of a guinea pig. For people who just want to watch Mulan, now you have two options: either pay $30 for access on September 4th or wait three months until it’s available for free.