The theater closure brought about by the pandemic saw the different movie studios react in different ways but we saw some patterns emerge eventually. For the most part, movie releases that were seen as big "tentpole" style releases saw their release dates delayed, some by a couple of months, some by a year or more. Smaller films that weren't seen as having massive box office potential were moved to VOD and streaming services. However, Disney recently bucked that trend by deciding to release Mulan, a movie that was expected to be a box office powerhouse, as a premium VOD product on Disney+. The decision was a surprise, but it may have paid off in a big way.
Mulan was released theatrically in some markets, including China, where the expectations were huge, and thus far the film has failed to be embraced there, but the Disney+ response appears to have been quite different. Thus far, Disney has not released any official numbers as far as how many households actually put down the $29.99 on top of their regular subscription fee to watch the film, however, Yahoo is reporting that analytics research firm 7Park Data has calculated that nearly 30% of U.S. Households with Disney+ purchased the movie before September 12, which translates to over $260 million in revenue.
To be clear, these numbers are estimates and are based on little hard data from Disney. We know that the global Disney+ subscriber base is over 60 million people. We don't actually know how many U.S. subscribers there are, but the numbers are based on the estimate that about half of subscribers are in the U.S. This means that about nine million households spent the extra cash on Mulan.
Disney has only publicly said the company was "pleased" with the Disney+ results, but at this point, we likely won't get any hard numbers from the company until the next earnings call, which is expected in November, unless the recently announced Investors Day happens first. Still, if these numbers are close to accurate, it's understandable why Disney would be pleased. Combined with the global box office numbers it would put Mulan somewhere around a $300 million gross, which, in the case of this movie may only be enough to keep the film from losing money, but under the circumstances, you can call that a win.
If these Disney+ numbers are approaching accurate, then this is, at the very least, very good news for Disney+. Even with reports that Mulan will become a standard part of the service before the end of the year, millions were willing to spend the cash to watch the movie earlier than that, and demand for the film was high enough that people spent more for it then most other premium VOD movies have been going for recently, especially when you add in the month of Disney+ that was also necessary.
While Disney had previously called Mulan a "one-off" meaning that we should not be expecting more Premium Disney+ content, the company also said they would be watching the response closely. Disney+ had already proved itself to be a powerhouse in the streaming service game and now it's looking even stronger.