‘BLACK WIDOW’: How ‘MULAN’ Might Alter Disney’s Release Strategy
Well, this Labor Day weekend was certainly interesting to say the least. In case you haven’t been paying attention, let me bring you up to speed. During this Labor Day weekend, two motion pictures dropped across two vastly different formats: Mulan over on Disney+ via Premier Access and Tenet wherever theaters were open.
Now, after weeks of speculation over what course of action the average movie-goer would take, we finally have our results!
Let’s start with the Disney+ Premier Access Experiment. So as of when this article is being written (Tuesday Night), Mulan’s official numbers have not yet been released by Disney. However, it is important to note 4 things that have been observed over the last few days:
1. In a recent Yahoo! Finance report: “preliminary data shows that ‘Mulan’ at least prompted a 68% spike in Disney+ app downloads from Friday, Sept. 4 through Sunday, Sept. 6, compared to one weekend prior.” The report also states that “Consumer spending in the app also spiked 193%, which can obviously be attributed to customers paying the $30 ‘Mulan’ fee.”
2. When the stock market opened on Tuesday following Labor Day Weekend, Disney Stocks rose back to February Levels prior to on a Streaming-Based Analyst Upgrade, amassing a 2% increase on it’s stock in 1 day. The report from Deadline describes how “Disney has made several moves to position itself for the overall shift to streaming…” where the article went on to describe multiple “key advantages” Disney had in its favor, including: “an inevitable shattering of today’s exclusive theatrical window…” which will “make room for new premium video-on-demand windows that enhance monetization of film studio output and add consumer utility to the Disney+ service.”
3. On September 9th, The Walt Disney Company participated in a Citi 2020 Global Technology Conference, where they have stated that Disney was, quote, “very pleased with the initial Mulan numbers of the 4-day weekend and that it was the best way to release the film considering that California and New York were closed, as well as the statistics that showed very low interest on going to a cinema at the moment”
4. Lastly, according to SambaTV, in an unofficial rundown of the numbers, about 1.12 million US households downloaded Mulan over the course of the 4 days (Friday until Monday), which would amass at least $33.5 million domestic for Mulan’s Opening Weekend. (Credit to @Great_Katzby)
According to SambaTV, 1.12M US households watched #Mulan via Disney+ over a four-day span (Friday to Monday). With each account paying $29.99 for Premier Access on Disney+, that results in at least $33.5 million domestic for Mulan's opening weekend (if the numbers are accurate). pic.twitter.com/XsSiuLWszz— Brandon Katz (@Great_Katzby) September 8, 2020
So as of right now, while the official numbers have yet to be released, this is a clear indication that things seem to be pointing in the right direction for Disney.
Now, Tenet managed to amass a $20 million Domestic Box Office Opener across a 13-day period which includes early access screenings, Canada Box Office Numbers and the General US Domestic Box Office across Labor Day Weekend.
Now, the $20 million opener can be viewed from two different perspectives:
-Glass Half-Full: Considering the pandemic and the heavy limitations and restrictions going against it, Warner Bros. did its best and should be commended.
-Glass Half-Empty: Warner Bros. did not amass as much money as they had hoped and the risk Warner Bros played did not pay off.
It is important to note that globally (counting the domestic box office), Tenet made $150 million worldwide.
SO WHAT DO THESE RESULTS ALL MEAN FOR THE RELEASE OF FUTURE FILMS? (SPECIFICALLY BLACK WIDOW)
I know this is probably the thing you’ve been looking forward to for this whole article, so I think I can finally make a plausible theory. Before we get into my theory, let’s discuss two polls I placed on my Twitter, where I asked you guys what you would consider to be the better option for Black Widow’s release and if Marvel Studios released Black Widow this year, which format would you prefer/feel safe watching it? And here are those results:
So, the final results indicate that 84% would want the film to be released in 2020 rather than a delay to 2021 (16%). And a 55% of you believe that a combination of both Disney+ Premium Access & Select Movie Theaters would be a feasible comprise for this film’s release.
So, moment of truth. After all of this, and taking into consideration every factor possible, here’s my theory:
THEORY: IT MIGHT RELEASE ON BOTH
Now hear me out. I was on the fence regarding how Black Widow might be released, but after seeing the indicators in Disney’s stock rise and their unprecedented move to make a boost in streaming, it all seems to indicate that Disney is certainly working on pushing these films for a sort of hybrid release for not just Black Widow, but for other films going forward. Having Deadline describe Disney’s move this weekend as “an inevitable shattering of today’s exclusive theatrical window…” which will “make room for new premium video-on-demand windows that enhance monetization of film studio output and add consumer utility to the Disney+ service”, as was stated earlier in the article, pretty much tells me that Disney plans to make more “Premier Access” releases on Disney+, but that they could also make the move to release films in select theaters. Not only that, but their Citi Conference Call clearly shows Disney was heavily pleased with the results of the Premier Access Experiment.
The biggest factor affecting the movie industry right now is the COVID-19 pandemic. If anything, it showed studios that people are still not ready to go to indoor movie theaters, risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones to go watch a movie.
So as of right now, where we stand, and if the pandemic rate in the US remains constant or worsens, chances are we might see a PVoD + Theater hybrid option for upcoming films.