Not good news for cinema operators. Disney is relying solely on streaming for the launch of its $200 million blockbuster “Mulan”. Cinemas are losing out. This means that the global triumph of streaming platforms, driven also by the Corona crisis, is continuing.
Streaming is the trend. Not just since Covid-19, but the pandemic is driving the shift away from cinema to online distribution once again. With the online launch of one of the most important films this September on its own video platform, Disney is now deliberately bypassing the cinemas.
Is Disney’s “Mulan” setting off an avalanche with its online launch?
“We consider “Mulan” an isolated business case. This, in contrast to the claim that there is a new business model we are considering,” Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney, was quoted in the industry magazine Variety after having had a conversation with investors about the start of the live action remake of Mulan at Disney+. There is a good reason for this statement: Trouble with the cinemas had already existed in Hollywood earlier this year.
Universal’s animated film “Trolls World Tour” already had its premiere online, accompanied by protests from the major US cinema chains. The decision to rely entirely on streaming was a success for Universal Studios: On the very first day, “Trolls World Tour” (at a production cost of 90 million) already made a whopping 100 million USD in online sales. The Disney management should have taken note of this.
We find it very interesting to take a premiere offering to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it.
In the crisis year 2020, the mood between film studios and cinemas was further fuelled by a new deal, which the movie theatres hardly agreed to voluntarily at the end of July. Upcoming blockbusters such as “Jurassic World 3: Dominion”, the sequel to the successful series “Fast & Furious 9” or the 3rd Minions film are now available online just 17 days after the cinema release. This means that the time window between the cinema release and home cinema is considerably shorter. There is less and less time for cinemas to make a good deal with exclusive accessibility.
If Disney’s “Mulan” repeats the success of “Trolls World Tour”, other studios are likely to adopt this business model with their top feature films soon. And instead of going straight to the cinema screen, they will be putting their money on the screen at home.
The Disney+ streaming offer, which was only launched this year, now has 60.5 million paying subscribers (as of the end of July 2020). The fact that the global corporation has promised cinema chains, when exploiting “Mulan”, to launch the film in cinemas in countries that do not (yet) have access to Disney+, as in the good old days, should only be of limited comfort to cinema operators.