After achieving a “moon shot” subscriber goal, Disney+ is doing something new: releasing a movie for purchase rather than streaming.
Before Disney launched its Disney+ streaming service, the company told investors that the platform would reach 60 to 90 million subscribers by the five-year point, or sometime in 2024. Their educated guess was based on all the market data available to them in June 2019.
If the company had known that COVID-19 was coming, with months of confinement for a large percentage of the global population, it might have made a different estimate.
In the last weeks of July 2020, only eight months after the service’s November 2019 launch, Disney+ surpassed that goal of 60 million subscribers. And now the company is trying something new.
The live-action remake of Mulan, originally slated to be released in theaters in March 2020, has been on hold while Disney tried to figure out how to get box-office-tier numbers out of a home release. Mulan cost a fortune to make—more than $200 million—and a streaming release was never going to make even a percentage of that back.
On August 4, 2020, new Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that Mulan will be released on Disney+ on September 4, but not as part of its regular streaming catalog. For a one-time “purchase” price of $29.99, customers can buy access to the movie for as long as they continue to be a Disney+ subscriber. Chapek called this “premier access.”
“We see this as an opportunity to bring this incredible film to a broad audience currently unable to go to movie theaters, while also further enhancing the value and attractiveness of the Disney Plus subscription with this great content,” said Chapek.
Chapek also insists that this new model is a one-off, but also a learning experience for Disney+, testing the viability of pay-per-view on its platform—which may be a concern for the company’s customers, who pay monthly to have access to the entire Disney catalog.
Photo by Enjoy The Life / Shutterstock.com