Let's analyze why Disney decided to distribute Mulan on Disney + at $ 29: here's the anatomy of a commercial experiment.

I imagine a reality in which I foresee the arrival of the global pandemic. Here I don't behave like a good lead character who goes out of his way to avert danger. I spend the months leading up to the disaster mentally listing the effects this will have on me. Well, even in this hypothetical scenario I could never have imagined that one of the most important events of our time would have given me days of study to write about the new release Mulan. I am Dodger, and this is the butterfly effect.

The new coronavirus and its spread around the world have a long series of consequences. Some of these concern psychology, others the trend of global markets, and others will have repercussions on politics. We have already talked about its consequences on fairs (Modena Play, San Diego Comic-Con e Fabcon 2020). But unfortunately I deal with communication and multimedia productions, so today we will talk about the world of cinema. If you are interested, here I've already written about the possible consequences that the quarantine and the pandemic could have on science fiction.

Mulan on Disney +: the history of live action production

Mulan 2020 is the fourteenth link in the long chain of remakes live action that Disney began putting together in the early XNUMXs. A chain that to date does not seem at all willing to break, given the positive response at the box office (and less positive from critics, but hey, you don't think this matters!).

Initially destined to be released in US theaters on March 27, then July 24, then August 21, then big question mark, the film will be available on Disney +[1] on demand starting from September 4th 2020 for the modest sum of $29,99. You hear those distant voices shouting, “But I already pay $ 6,99 PER MONTH! "? They are one of the reasons why we are here today.

So when the good Gloria asked me two weeks ago if I found this price out of the market and what I thought of Disney's move, I said I'd answer her. IS the simple answer is yes, I think Disney did the math well. But I don't believe in simple answers.

La complicated answer it has to do with the ability and need for a company like Disney to evolve. To change your product. To respond to the new needs and demands of the market. The complicated answer begins with 1989: the Disney Renaissance.

The major titles of the Disney Renaissance
The major titles of the Disney Renaissance

The roots of Disney's evolution: the Disney Renaissance

Everyone knows that, between the XNUMXs and XNUMXs, Walt Disney gave life to animated films that made history. The best known and most loved are based on classic fairy tales. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Cinderella (1950) Alice in the land of wonders (1951), The adventures of Peter Pan (1953) and The Sleeping Beauty (1959) are all points of reference in our collective imagination.

Perhaps not everyone knows that, however, after Walt's death in 1966, the company he founded went through a long period of crisis. A crisis such that in 1985 someone even hypothesized his death, which never happened, caused by the flop of Taron and the magic pot.

What made Disney what we know today begins with the so-called Disney Reinassance. It is a period of time between 1989 and 1999 in which the studios returned to produce highly successful animated feature films, based as in the past on classic stories. The focus on the protagonists' need to find their true identity, the familiarity of the characters and a long list of songs have marked the success of the operation, which gives La sirenetta onwards holds the blow without excessive creaking up to Hercules, In 1997.

The crisis of Hercules and the need to experiment

Hercules, which Disney has scapegoated to the point of being the only Renaissance film not to have a remake scheduled. (ERRATA CORRIGE: actually it was the last recent addition to live action in production) (Why not, I don't count Pocahontas, seeing as they have chosen to wash their conscience with oceania in 2016). Although the Disney Renaissance tombstone is F (1999), is Hercules to make the studios understand that you cannot replicate the same model for a decade and expect the result not to change.

But now, on the strength of an increased legacy and greater economic availability, Disney knows how to do experiments that don't end in catastrophe until you find her next little mermaid.

The evolution of Disney and its relationship with the past

Among a series of titles and attempts, some more successful than others, in the XNUMXs of the XNUMXs what is still today one of the main threads of the new Disney products begins to emerge: the self-awareness.

From Kristoff who in 2013 criticizes Anna for getting engaged to her prince after just one day in Maui, whom in 2016 he calls Vaiana "princess" because she wears a dress and has a pet as a companion, the new Disney characters almost seem to have a moral duty to mock the clichés that characterized their predecessors. What if in 2013 I found it refreshing that Elsa didn't need it of a penis of a man to find his own inner peace, in 2020 I'd like to see even the occasional movie whose plot isn't largely centered on Disney's need to tell us "We understand it's not 1950". And no, I don't think the new Mulan will please me in this.

Live action remakes of Disney classics
Live action remakes of Disney classics

The live action project: updating, nostalgia, and not necessarily having to like it

But that's the stuff Disney live action remakes are made of. Excluding the three titles released between 1994 and 2000, all the products in this series are based at least partially onupdate a previous classic. Let me say it better: Disney's live action remakes mostly point to correcting the aspects that we former children of the 90s have been complaining about on the internet for about fifteen years. Correct, if not cancel, as happened to Dumbo's ravens, the racist slip of 1941 that Disney still doesn't feel too comfortable talking about today.

The experiments of Maleficent e Cinderella

The path that the live action project would take was marked between 2014 and 2015 with the release of Maleficent before and Cinderella onwards. A test bed to understand what the public was most interested in: a film with a strong nostalgia factor or a slightly different version (and with Robb Stark) of an already well-known fairy tale? Both films were a success. Maleficent with a collection of over 750 million dollars on the world market (240 only in the USA) for a budget of 180. Cinderella collecting over 540 million in tickets sold worldwide (201 in the US), but with a budget of "only" 95 million. And if both formulas work, why not favor the one that allows you not to have to reinvent history?

The success of Il re leone

To date, the most successful remakes at the box office are the ones they have spoiled kept one close link with the original story. First of all, we name of course Il re leone (2019). Crap a film that alone brings home 1,6 billion with a budget of just 230 million. A rubbish a film in seventh place among the films that have grossed the most in the history of cinema. First in Italy among Disney products for tickets sold. An absurdly high score of 53% on Rotten Tomatoes notwithstanding make you vomit its flaws.

But that's what Disney's game works for: the film doesn't necessarily have to like you, the important thing is that you go and see it. And we go to see it. Always.

A promotional poster of the film, before the pandemic and the announcement of Mulan's release on Disney +
A promotional poster of the film, before the pandemic and the announcement of the release of Mulan on Disney +

Mulan on Disney +: What Are Disney's Reasons?

Mulan and its release on Disney + for a single figure that some define as off-market are part of this game, and they do so on multiple levels.

Let's start by saying that there will be many, even in the West, who want to see the film despite being designed more to wink at the Chinese market, as we read here. Despite the absence of my future husband by Li Shang. Although there is no Mushu and Eddie Murphy's voice. And despite the void left by the songs. We know this and Disney knows it.

And yes, dear friends who for weeks have announced on social networks your intention to "become pirates" and "rely on the torrent", Disney knows this too. And no, he doesn't care that much. Because, always remember, Disney is not a one-headed monster: Disney is a hydra.

As far as the money coming from sale have value, even just as feedback, let's not forget about theme parks scattered around the world. Of the riches derived from the possession of The Marvel movies, Lucasfilm e 20th Century Studios, to name a few. And above all, let's not forget the merchandisingIf you look around right now and find fewer than 10 blatantly Disney-related items you are probably lying. And anyway, if you spend your two free hours watching Mulan pirate, you didn't use them to watch a competitor's product.

The attraction for families of having Mulan on Disney +

In addition to us millennials in their thirties without children, the other important audience segment that Disney films are intended for should be remembered: families with children (yes, we tend to forget). A family with at least one child already spends $30 to take him to the cinema with tickets, drinks and popcorn. Spending the same amount to see the same movie at home, without the stink of butter and dirty toilets your child will surely have to go into at least once, all with the ability to repeat the show multiple times can be considered by many to be an advantageous choice. .

Do you have little cousins ​​who join the screening? Halve it to $ 15 per family, park the little ones in front of the screen and maybe for you grown-ups there are even two hours of chatting with your fellow men. Disney made these accounts, and they may be correct despite the film having received a PG-13 rating (also establishing a primacy).

Mulan on Disney +: A test on legal streaming platforms

The fact remains that the path chosen is risky, especially considering that the budget is 300 million dollars. But in addition to knowing their legacy well, in addition to having once again had the ability to make people talk so much and for so long about their product, Disney knows something else.

Legal streaming platforms now play an important role in how users enjoy entertainment. Their importance then increased at an even faster rate due to the global pandemic, which has driven even the most loyal from the cinemas. And in fact the price to pay, however things go, will not be for Disney, but for the exhibitors.

Another promotional poster from Mulan
Another promotional poster by Mulan

Conclusions on Disney's choices

As it has done in the past, Disney will take advantage of an objective necessity and a difficult to circumvent problem to test a path that is still little explored. Instead of continuing to postpone the release date in theaters, the company has chosen to bet on our desire to finally see what the hell is in this new Mulan, making it immediately available on Disney +. A fate that until now was reserved for minor products such as the remake of Lilli e il vagabondo (2019), but not burdened by the premium cost.

But if in 1998 the first is highly anticipated Mulan had it been a direct-to-video movie, would you have bought it? You wouldn't have taken it home immediately and more willingly than the others Beauty and the beast and a magical Christmas that usually touched us. Yes, the price is a bit higher than VHS in the late XNUMXs, but would you have noticed?

For Disney, getting Mulan out on Disney + is a bet worth making. The worst possible outcome? Lots of more information on who among us is willing to spend on on demand.

Let's remember Disney's reasons: Our obligation is to make money

I close by recalling a memo that is very important for understanding Disney's choices.

The pursuit of making money is the only reason to make movies. We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement.

Our obligation is to make money, and to make money, it may be important to make history. To make money, it may be important to make art, or some significant statement. To make money, it may be important to win the Academy Award, for it might mean another ten million dollars at the box office.

Our only objective may be to make money, but in order to make money, we must always make entertaining movies. And if we make entertaining movies, at times we will make history, art, a statement, or all three. We may even win awards.

Michael Eisner, Disney CEO from 1984 to 2005. Memo written to the Paramount administration in 1981.

[1] Mulan's preview release on Disney + will only be available in countries where the Disney + service is active; in the rest of the world the film will be regularly distributed in theaters upon their reopening.