Mulan for $30 on Disney Plus? Count me in

I want to watch more new movie releases in the comfort of my own home. Way more.

Mark Serrels Editorial Director
Mark Serrels is an award-winning Senior Editorial Director focused on all things culture. He covers TV, movies, anime, video games and whatever weird things are happening on the internet. He especially likes to write about the hardships of being a parent in the age of memes, Minecraft and Fortnite. Definitely don't follow him on Twitter.
Mark Serrels
4 min read

Disney's live-action Mulan movie has already impressed critics.


Right-o. Let's talk about Mulan on Disney Plus.

As a result of the coronavirus and -- more specifically -- cinemas being closed indefinitely, Disney announced it would be making Mulan, one of its planned tentpole summer releases, available on Disney Plus to stream. 

Only one catch. A $30 catch.

At this point we don't have 100% confirmation this $30 cost requires a Disney Plus subscription, but regardless... It's a big ask. As a result, the online response has been negative. And that's 100% fair. For a number of reasons. 

There's a lot to be bothered about. $30 is a lot. Disney has confirmed users who buy Mulan can watch for as long as they remain subscribers to Disney Plus, but there's something a little off about that. You can usually buy and own a digital copy of a movie for that price, or pick up a 4K Blu-ray.

$30 is also more than the cost of almost any cinema ticket, outside of super premium cinema services like "Gold Class" in Australia. And when you consider that, as recently as February this year, Disney set the precedent of releasing Onward for free on its Disney Plus service, it's a tough pill to swallow.

But, regardless of these compelling arguments, I will gladly pay $30 to watch Mulan upon launch. I'd also gladly pay $30 to watch Black Widow or Tenet or Wonder Woman 1984. I'd pay $30 for as long as they'll let me. I'd pay $30 if cinemas open up again and life starts to go back to normal. 


More big movie releases on streaming services please!


The main reason for this: I'm married, I have two kids. In addition to the logistical nightmare of escorting two young children to a cinema -- parking, navigating the mall, buying snacks, fighting over who gets what -- a trip to the movies can end up costing me close to $100. 

The idea of kicking back, making my own popcorn, getting the kids in their pajamas and chilling out on my comfortable couch to watch a movie seems like a dream scenario in comparison. I can easily pause when I need to take the youngest to the toilet, no need to stress if my kids are making too much noise, zero anxiety around the fact my kids are cramming a Magnum and a full bag of Skittles into their sugar-obsessed gobs. A perfect Saturday night in.

I get that your mileage may vary. You might not have kids. In the US the price of cinema tickets varies wildly. So you may have kids, but for you the cinema is still a cheap night out. If you, like me, enjoy going to the cinema alone, the idea of paying $30 will no doubt seem exorbitant, but for my specific situation it's a helluva deal.

And here's the situation, as plainly as I can state it: Do you want movies or not? Mulan had a production budget of $200 million and an estimated marketing budget of half that amount. It's hard to feel sorry for a megacorporation, particularly one with a stranglehold on entertainment like Disney, but when you outlay $300 million as an investment you tend to want some of that back. 

I like movies, and I want people to keep making movies. Netflix aside, it's not realistic to expect companies like Disney to make expensive bets like Mulan or Captain Marvel 2 and just lob them on streaming services for free. While $30 might not be the right price, time will bear that out. If $30 is what people are willing to pay (and I am very willing to pay), then that's the price. If not, the price will almost certainly drop. 

I suspect it won't have to. Take the UFC. To purchase a UFC pay-per-view event, like the upcoming UFC 252, you not only have to subscribe to ESPN Plus at $5 per month, you have to pay an additional $65. That's a live sporting event, but I'd argue movies aren't that much different.

Big tentpole releases -- particularly movies like Star Wars or Avengers -- are cultural events, part of the broader discourse to the point where we almost consume them like sports. We discuss them in real time, we argue about them, create stupid Twitter threads about them. Bizarrely, as movies like Wonder Woman 1984 and Tenet have seen delay after delay, I've missed online discussion of big, new movie releases. 

Every Marvel movie and TV show coming out in Phase 4 (and beyond)

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When cinemas inevitably reopen, sure, I'll go back. Nothing can replace the cinema experience, but when movie theaters are a thing again, I just want the choice. And, frankly, I'm privileged enough to have that choice. What about those who don't have choice? What about those who, for a multitude of reasons, can't even make it to the cinema? Is it wrong to provide alternative ways to consume brand new movies?

Again, your mileage may vary, but I hope Mulan's Disney Plus release is successful. I want to watch brand new movies in the comfort of my own home and I don't want to have to wait until those movies are no longer relevant to do so.

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