UK cinema owners are furious at Disney’s decision to premiere Mulan on its Disney Plus platform in September. The film will only hit the big screen in territories where the streaming service isn’t available.
Phrases such as “hugely disappointing”, ‘bewilderd’ and ‘frustrated’ have been used, but the the most plan speaking comment from an unnamed cinema operator was: ‘It’s a f*ck you to exhibitors’. More than 40% of cinemas have reopened in the UK
Phil Clap, the Chief executive of The UK Cinema Association said, “For many this will seem a step backwards rather than forward.”
“With cinemas across the UK now continuing to re-open and welcome back their customers, the decision by Walt Disney Studios yesterday to put Mulan on their Disney+ service and not into cinemas will be seen by many as hugely disappointing and mistimed.
“Rather than playing a great new family film in the best place possible to see it, the cinema theatre, audiences are instead being encouraged to stay home and pay a premium price to watch it.”
Disney responded in a letter to owners saying, “Given that COVID-19 has disrupted large parts of the content pipeline and markets are in vastly different situations right now, and after delaying the global theatrical debut multiple times, we are subsequently taking a tailored approach to this release’.’
Disney‘s controversial move to release Mulan on Disney Plus is one which will have serious ramifications for the film industry. Mid-range movies have migrated to streaming over the last few years, but cinema owners were happy knowing that huge tentpole movies were always going to have a big screen debut. That’s now changed. What happens now is anyone’s guess.
Sources: BBC, Deadline and THR