Disney's unorthodox 2020 release plan for Mulan, like most things during the pandemic, was unprecedented. After delaying the big-screen rollout of Mulan three times since it was originally meant to hit theaters March 27, Disney decided to release the big-budget, live-action remake for an extra $30 fee on , its subscription streaming service that already costs $7 a month. Thursday, Mulan became available to preorder at like Amazon Video, Vudu and others, where it'll be available as a digital download Tuesday for $30. Then it'll become part of the standard Disney Plus catalog on Dec. 4.
Mulan's premiere skipping theaters was an unprecedented move, unfathomable when Mulan had its red-carpet premiere in early March. For one, it was a major defection from the rigid rules that usually keep new movies in cinemas exclusively for 75 days or more. Until the pandemic, Disney had been loyal to those so-called theatrical windows, racking up more of the top box-office blockbusters in the last five years than any other studio.
It was also a twist to how Disney has pitched Disney Plus since its launch in November. Disney Plus was marketed as a rival to Netflix, an all-you-can-eat buffet to stream almost everything Disney produces for one monthly subscription fee. But Mulan involves an additional transaction that members must pay -- and a pricey one at that. It's a new proposition for Disney Plus' 60 million subscribers.
The finer points about Disney's 2020 Mulan release follow.
Will Mulan ever be included 'free' with a regular Disney Plus subscription? When?
Yes, Mulan will become part of a, three months after it premiered on the service for the extra fee.
That timeframe is faster than a big-budget Disney movie would arrive on Disney Plus traditionally. In prepandemic times, Disney typically would add its theatrically released movies to Disney Plus roughly six to nine months after their wide releases on the big screen.
At first during the pandemic, Disney Plus added some of its theatrically released movies to the service earlier than planned. Both Frozen 2 andarrived on Disney Plus three months earlier than originally scheduled. Then, Disney Plus began to release movies that had been originally planned for traditional theatrical runs. The filmed version of Broadway hit Hamilton, for example, was put out on Disney Plus more than a year earlier than it had been slated to hit the big screen.
Mulan was, by far, the biggest-budget Disney movie yet to skip theaters and premiere online.
Will I be able to watch Mulan online via any stores other than Disney Plus?
Initially, Mulan was an online exclusive for Disney Plus. Starting Tuesday, it'll go on sale at other online stores, like Amazon Video, Vudu and Fandango Now as a $30 digital download. Some of these stores are offering preorders for Mulan already.
Moving outside Disney Plus, Mulan will see its total price essentially get a $7 haircut. When the film was a Disney Plus exclusive, purchasing Mulan required paying for a Disney Plus subscription on top of the extra $30 fee for the movie itself. By purchasing outside Disney Plus when Mulan is available elsewhere, buyers are saving themselves from that membership cost.
When was Mulan's release date?
Mulan became available on Disney Plus on Sept. 4. It'll be available for sale in other online stores Tuesday. It becomes a part of the regular Disney Plus catalog, without any extra fee, on Dec. 4.
Disney had previously said that its so-called "premier access" offer to watch Mulan on Disney Plus for an extra fee would last until Nov. 2. People who purchase access to Mulan before Nov. 2 can keep watching it as long as they remain an active Disney Plus customer.
It was unclear what'll happen after Nov. 2, when the "premier access" purchase offer ends, and Dec. 4, when Mulan becomes part of the standard Disney Plus catalog. It's possible Disney had planned to keep Mulan exclusive for Disney Plus until Nov. 2 but then changed gears to make it available at other online stores a month early.
How much does Mulan cost?
Purchasing Mulan outside Disney Plus will cost $30, regardless of the image quality, from standard definition to ultrahigh def.
On Disney Plus, it's $30 plus the cost of having a subscription to the service. Purchasers will be able to watch Mulan for as long as they remain active Disney Plus subscribers. Mulan's price varies internationally in local currencies, but the value of the international prices is generally on par with $30.
Starting Dec. 4, Mulan becomes part of the standard Disney Plus catalog (see the section above called "Will Mulan ever be included 'free' with a regular Disney Plus subscription?").
Taxes vary by country. In some countries, purchasers will need to pay taxes on top of the Mulan purchase in addition to its advertised price. But in other countries, like those in the euro zone, the price of Mulan already includes taxes.
How long will I be able to watch Mulan once I pay for it in Disney Plus?
Once you unlock access to Mulan on Disney Plus, you keep your access to it for as long as you're an active Disney Plus subscriber. If you cancel Disney Plus, you obviously won't be able to watch Mulan anymore -- but if you reactivate the same account, your Mulan access will be restored. Starting Dec. 4, Mulan becomes part of the standard Disney Plus catalog.
What countries get Mulan online?
Mulan premiered on Disney Plus in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Will Disney release other new movies this way, like Marvel's Black Widow?
Possibly, but probably not. And definitely not for Black Widow.
This unconventional release of Mulan is basically an experiment. Disney CEO Chapek said Mulan's release strategy doesn't necessarily set a new standard for how other Disney films will reach audiences during (or after) the pandemic.
However, Chapek left the door open to possibly release other movies this way again if Mulan turns out to be a success.
"Mulan is a one-off," Chapek said in early August. "That said, we find it very interesting to be able to ... learn from it and see what happens, not only in terms of the uptake of the number of subscribers that we get on the platform but the actual number of transactions on the Disney Plus platform that we get."
Chapek wouldn't go into detail, but he said that the company's internal research indicated that releasing Mulan this way would not only drum up revenue from $30 purchases but also act as "a fairly large stimulus to sign up for Disney Plus."
But after Mulan's premiere on Disney Plus, Disney pushed back the theatrical release date for Marvel's Black Widow until next year, making an early streaming release for Black Widow unlikely.
Will people who purchase Mulan on Disney Plus be able to download it to watch offline?
Yes. Once you pay for Mulan, it should be present in your Disney Plus library similar to any other title -- so you should be able to download it, search for it by name, add it to a watchlist and so on.
Disney Plus has a generous download policy. Pretty much everything on the service is available to download for offline viewing. The service limits the number of mobile or tablet devices that its subscribers can download on, allowing no more than 10 devices, but that's the only constraint.
What video and audio formats will Mulan support on Disney Plus?
Mulan will be available in ultrahigh definition and high dynamic range imaging, and it'll support Dolby Audio.
Does Mulan have closed-captioning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing? Does it have descriptive audio for people who are blind or have low vision?
Yes -- on Disney Plus at least. Mulan includes accessibility features like closed captions and descriptive audio on Disney's own streaming service. Those accessibility features may vary if you purchase from other stores (though closed-captioning, for one, is generally ubiquitous).
Disney Plus has a strong track record for accessibility. The service supports closed-captioning and descriptive audio, and Disney Plus apps have navigation assistance to help subscribers who have disabilities. In July, the American Council of the Blind gave Disney Plus an achievement award for its descriptive audio.
Can I pay for Mulan through my iPhone app? My Android app? Other apps for Disney Plus?
You can buy access to Mulan through disneyplus.com and in the Disney Plus app for Roku, Apple, Google and Amazon Fire TV devices.
Support for Apple and Google purchases means you'll be able to buy Mulan through your iPhone or Android phone with an in-app purchase. No other devices were confirmed for purchasing access to the movie, so if you typically watch Disney Plus on a game console or some other device that isn't listed above, you'll need to log on elsewhere to make the actual Mulan purchase.
Note that this complication only affects where you'll be able to pay for Mulan. Once the transaction is complete, you'll be able to stream Mulan on any device that supports Disney Plus, regardless of app or platform.
If you buy Mulan in another online store, the payment methods will depend on that store's own options, which vary.
How will the Disney Plus user interface accommodate a video-on-demand purchase?
To purchase access to Mulan, members should go to the Mulan page in Disney Plus to find a button to purchase the movie. If you're using an app on an Apple device or a Google/Android device, the transaction will be a standard in-app purchase. If you're on disneyplus.com, you'll be given the option to charge your card on file, which may require you to enter the card's 3- or 4-digit identification number, or you can choose a different method of payment to purchase the movie.
Once you make your way through the transaction for Mulan, then the title will simply be unlocked as part of your wider Disney Plus catalog. You can find it by searching, adding it to your watchlist or browsing in the Disney section of the app.