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‘Mulan’ to Skip US Theaters for September Debut on Disney+

Streaming subscribers must pay an extra $29.99 for the film, starting Sept. 4

“Mulan” will be released on Disney+ for premium video on demand on Sept. 4, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced on the company’s earnings call Tuesday. But the film will not abandon theatrical entirely and still open in theaters, starting in the overseas market.

The live-action remake of the animated film was meant to open in March at the start of the coronavirus as one of the year’s bigger tentpole films but was recently pulled from the release slate.

It will now be available on Disney+ to subscribers in the U.S. for the price of $29.99, which will allow the purchaser access to the movie as long as they remain a Disney+ subscriber. Chapek did however clarify that the unique release approach for “Mulan” would be a “one-off,” and as of now Marvel’s “Black Widow” is still scheduled for a traditional, theatrical release in November.

“We’re pleased to be able to bring ‘Mulan’ to our subscriber base that’s been waiting for it for a long time. However, we’re looking at ‘Mulan’ as a one-off,” Chapek said. “That said, we find it very interesting to take that $29.99 offering and learn from it.”

“Mulan” has been delayed since March just as movie theaters were shuttering, and the film was at the time heavily marketed. It was even hoping for a release as early as July such that it could be one of the films to spur audiences back to theaters.

Disney will release “Mulan” theatrically in countries where there are no launch plans for Disney+, but Chapek said it will debut on Disney+ not only in the U.S. but also in Canada and New Zealand, as well as other regions. Chapek also explained why Disney chose to release the film via premium video on demand rather than just make it available for subscribers.

“Disney blockbuster tentpoles can be fairly expensive to make and produce, so rather than roll it into the subscription we thought we’d give it a try to recapture some of that investment,” Chapek said. “Such an offering not only brings in revenue from PVOD, but also acts as a stimulus to sign up for Disney+.”

The Walt Disney Co. on the whole reported a net loss of $4.7 billion for its fiscal third quarter as a result of the downturn from the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, the company reported revenue of $11.8 billion during the third quarter which was down 42% from the $20.3 billion the company reported during the same quarter last year. Analysts following the stock via Yahoo! Finance expected Disney revenue to come in at $12.4 billion.

Disney+ has been the one bright point for Disney, as the company also reported that the streaming service topped 60.5 million subscribers, in part thanks to the success of debuting “Hamilton” and other theatrical films such as “Onward” and “Artemis Fowl” on the service. Disney also pushed “The One and Only Ivan” to streaming for release this fall.

Back in July, Disney shuffled not just “Mulan” but much of its release slate, including delaying future “Star Wars” films and “Avatar” sequels by an entire year, and at the time the company indefinitely delayed the release of “Mulan.”

“Over the last few months, it’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and today that means pausing our release plans for ‘Mulan’ as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world,” the studio said in a statement back in July.

Niki Caro directs the live-action remake of “Mulan,” which stars Yifei Liu and Donnie Yen in a war epic about a Chinese woman who impersonates a male soldier and fights to save her family and the country from invasion.