WTF?! How much would you pay for a video rental? Three dollars? Six? What if it was the best movie ever made? Would you pay more? Ten dollars, maybe? What about $30? Well, if you want to watch Disney's big-budget live-action adaptation of Mulan, that's what you'll have to fork over.
During a Tuesday earnings call, Disney execs said that they finally nailed down a release date for the long-delayed Mulan film. The movie will air on the company's streaming service, Disney Plus, starting on September 4, but that wasn't even the most surprising news.
Apparently, to watch Mulan, viewers will have to cough up $30. This fee is on top of the $7 per month subscription to Disney Plus. According to CEO Bob Chapek, the $30 charge is treated more like a "purchase." He insists that it is not a rental fee. The one-time payment gives subscribers "continuous access to the film," so long as they maintain their subscription.
30 dollars for a Mulan with no songs and no Mushu and no movie theater experience HAHAHAHA yeaaaa it’s a no disney pic.twitter.com/wJcbF6krep— ????? ? (@d3jah_vu) August 4, 2020
"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 Disney's top dog.
This "as-long-as-you-are-a-subscriber" stipulation flies in the face of a typical video "purchase" where you can keep the movie after buying it without paying anything further. To me, it sounds more like a continuous rental with a hefty upfront flat fee attached.
It also seems a bit steep for recouping box office earnings. The average adult theater ticket averages around $10. Granted, some users have multiple people in the household, but for a standard single user, $30 is quite off-putting.
So Disney wanted people to pay 30 bucks on top of the monthly payments during a pandemic... pic.twitter.com/fS3N3bcJei— Nigga-chan?|BLM (@artnanime) August 5, 2020
It's hard to tell if the Mouse is using Mulan as a test case for a radical new business model. In the Q&A portion of the call, Chapek said that Mulan is a one-time deal and that Disney Plus is not pursuing a paid-video-on-demand (PVOD) business model. However, later he implied that it very much is a test case for PVOD.
"We find it very interesting to be able to take a new offering to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it and see what happens not only in terms of the uptick of the number of subscribers we got on the platform but also the number of transactions we get on that PVOD offering," explained Chapek.
If I were to wager a bet, I would have to say that Disney will likely throw this idea out the window after Mulan. I simply cannot see many people willing to throw $30 down on what essentially amounts to a video rental, especially during this economic recession. Judging by some of the responses on Twitter (above), I'm not alone in that thinking.