Disney CEO Bob Chapek remained mum on viewership data for “Mulan,” which premiered on Disney’s streaming service Disney+ in September, but said they were “pleased” enough with the results to see a future with premium video on-demand movie releases.
“From a studio content standpoint, we were very pleased with the results of ‘Mulan’ as a premiere access title,” Chapek said on the investor call on Thursday. “Unfortunately, that title was met with some controversy in the U.S, and internationally, but we saw enough positive results before that controversy started to know that we have something here in terms of the premiere access strategy.”
He added: “There’s going to be a role for it strategically in our portfolio of offerings.”
Former DTC head Kevin Mayer had previously warned that the company would most likely never release viewership info. Nielsen Data released last month said the film was viewed for an estimated 525 million minutes in the U.S. in its first three days of availability for purchase on Disney+.
“Mulan” was released Sept. 4 on Disney+, skipping a planned domestic theatrical release due to the coronavirus pandemic and testing the waters for a PVOD model. The film cost $29.99 on top of the monthly subscription fee for Disney+ ($6.99 per month or $69.99 per year), but rather than a rental, viewers who purchased the film will have access to it for as long as they’re subscribers of Disney+.
The film faced political controversy. Chinese moviegoers mostly rejected the new remake of “Mulan,” seeing the film as the latest example of an American take on Chinese culture. Additionally, there was growing controversy over the involvement of Xinjiang police in the filming of “Mulan,” which prompted a response by U.S. lawmakers. In the film’s credits, police in the northwest autonomous region where Uyghur Muslims have been placed in mass internment camps were listed in the Special Thanks section, prompting a backlash in both the U.S. and Hong Kong, where backlash to “Mulan” had persisted for months after star Liu Yifei voiced her support for police stifling Hong Kong independence protests.
Disney Pixar’s “Soul,” which was originally intended to be a theatrical release, will debut on Disney+ next, on Dec. 25.