When Disney announced during its second quarter earnings report that Mulan was going to be the latest film of Disney's to come to Disney+ ahead early as theaters remain largely closed and home release windows get warped by the pandemic. Unlike Hamilton and Frozen II, though, Mulan was going to be a $30 upcharge on top of being a Disney+ subscriber, sparking outrage among fans and observers as Disney charged $10 more than competitors like Universal.
Turns out, Disney actually isn't overcharging for a rental. That $30 is an outright purchase, unlocking the film early on D+ and allowing you to watch it as many times as you like between September 4 and whenever the film comes to free D+ subscribers.
And that makes Mulan's pricing much more reasonable.
The other "home + theatrical premieres" we've seen this summer — like Trolls World Tour — have been $20 48-hour rentals for the first few months until they reach their actual "home release" window, at which point users can then buy the movie outright for $20 and rentals go down to more reasonable rates. The pricing here may seem steep, but if you're watching it with a family of six, $20 at home beats $60 at the box office, not to mention you can watch the movie at your kids' pace and re-watch the movie a few times before that two-day window expires.
For Mulan, however, you get a higher upfront fee to eliminate the secondary purchase fee down the road. $30 would maybe cover three movie tickets at a theater, but instead, you're essentially purchasing the film through Disney+ 3-4 months before its intended home release window. You'll be able to download the movie for offline playback — though just like buying a film from Google Play or iTunes, you can't download an unencrypted version of the movie to add to Plex or a personal media server — and you can watch it as many times as you want on any and every platform Disney+ is compatible with.
Do I wish that this price was an actual digital retailer purchase so that I could add the movie to my Movies Anywhere library and watch it on Google Play or Amazon Prime? Yeah, because if you stop subscribing to Disney+, you lose access to the movie.
On the other hand, do I blame Disney for wanting to keep a highly-anticipated movie on its most important service, further cementing Disney+ as a "must-have" subscription? Nah, you can hate the player but you gotta respect the hustle.
While many have said that they'd rather see Black Widow get this treatment than Mulan, I think it's far more reasonable for Disney to test the waters with the remake. If customers unilaterally shun this system and wait for Mulan to eventually come to all Disney+ subscribers — I'm guessing around Christmas or Valentine's Day? — then Disney will learn from it and can either hold off on Black Widow again or try a different tactic.
Either way, $30 to buy a movie while it's debuting in international theaters beats the pants off a 48-hour rental, and I am here for it.
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