Just a few hours ago, Disney CEO Bob Chepak announced that the company’s live-action remake of Mulan would be coming to Disney+ in September, but with a pretty big caveat attached. In addition to paying for the subscription service, customers would need to shell out an additional $29.99 on September 4 for the privilege of watching the movie outside of theaters.
What a load of bullshit.
Speaking during Disney’s third-quarter earnings call, Chapek said, “As you know it’s fairly expensive to produce for consumers the quality we’re known for. Rather than simply rolling (the movie) into a free offering, we thought we can test anything when you have your own platform.” What are we testing, Bob? How much shit you can shovel onto the general public before it fights back?
I completely understand that Disney can’t simply offer the film for free. I never once believed Mulan would even go the Disney+ route despite suggesting it a few weeks ago. This is a big-budget remake that took a cast and crew of hundreds many months to make and they should be fairly compensated, so I could reasonably expect $10 or so to watch it now. Instead, customers that are already paying to have access to Disney’s catalog of films are now be expected to pay nearly three times the price of a movie ticket just to watch a new film.
There are a lot of different ways you can look at this. From a family perspective, $30 is actually pretty reasonable. Taking a family of four to the theaters for the night can cost upwards of $100 since movie theaters are horseshit. Even going as a single person, I’ve spent $25 going to a late showing and grabbing popcorn. It’s a little outrageous.
Still, Disney+ is a paid service. This isn’t something like NBC’s Peacock where a free tier exists. The only way you’re going to be viewing Mulan come next month is by paying to gain access to Disney+. The lowest tier is $6.99 a month, so that bumps the total cost up to $36.98 before taxes.
That doesn’t even factor in how long you’ll have to view the thing. Is this a permanent buying option, or just a two-day rental? Will there be extra features included? Will it only work on a single device? Disney has clarified so little about this new option that we’re left more confused than ever.
Universal released Trolls World Tour for $20 earlier this year with a 48-hour rental period but did so on regular VOD platforms. There wasn’t an exclusive membership charge on top of the cost of the film. I’d still call that price nonsensical, but at least you could grab it from your distribution channel of choice. You didn’t need to belong to a specific service that isn’t even available in some countries. Chapek did claim this that would be a one-time deal, but let’s be honest with ourselves here: if movie theaters are still closed in November, what’s to stop Disney from pulling this crap again with Black Widow?
For Mulan, Disney is essentially holding it hostage behind the guise of Disney+ as this elusive and mysterious club. Why is it $30, exactly? Because Disney can get away with it and you’ll buy it like the good little consumer you are. Don’t question the mouse. Just consume. Don’t think. Movie good. Flashy visuals. Stylish art. Cool music. Buy now! Don’t think!
I may have stolen that last bit from Jim Sterling, but my point stands. Disney can really and truly get bent with this “premium VOD” bullshit it’s trying to peddle.