For various reasons, Disney rejects the term “premium video on demand,” or PVOD, in reference to its release via Disney+ of Mulan on Friday. But regardless of the label for it, the release will be as closely watched as any in recent Hollywood history, even that of Tenet, which arrives in theaters the day before.
Mulan is a $200 million, live-action remake of the 1998 Disney animated film. Days after its March 9 premiere at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, its scheduled March 27 release fell under a dark cloud due to COVID-19. After postponing the release multiple times, hoping to salvage the highly profitable theatrical window, Disney in early August decided to shift it to its Disney+ streaming service — only with a twist.
Instead of making it available as a PVOD title, a la Trolls World Tour and many others in recent months, or dropping for all subscribers a la Hamilton, Mulan will arrive via a brand-new venue within Disney+ called Premier Access. Subscribers to the $7-a-month-Disney+ will need to pay an additional $30 to watch it before it is made available as a basic offering to all subscribers. (Disney hasn’t indicated the timing of that broader, no-extra-charge release.)
Premiere Access is available via disneyplus.com and within the Disney+ app on third-party platforms like Apple, Google and Roku. Existing Disney+ subscribers can get Premier Access to Mulan by paying the $30 fee directly on DisneyPlus.com. Any Disney+ subscriber springing for Premier Access to Mulan will be able to download and watch it an unlimited amount of times as long as they remain an active Disney+ subscriber.
Disney did not make any executives available to discuss the strategy of the move. Mulan will be arriving on Disney+ this Friday on September 4th.