Disney Results....and Mulan Release Date?
Updated: Aug 5, 2020
We knew it was coming and we knew it would be bad. Now that the results are out, we can at least look to them as a barometer to see what's ahead.
First and foremost, I'm not sure anyone is surprised at the $2B USD loss at the parks ($5B USD overall). That's to be expected since they were closed (as we most of the Disney retail store locations for most, if not all, of the quarter. To put it into perspective, that's 2 Galaxy's Edge park additions. It's safe to say that this is going to have a huge impact on future capital projects.
What is surprising is the release of Mulan on Disney+ announcement. We all suspected that Mulan wasn't going to be the blockbuster its 200 million dollar cost and projections earlier this year predicted. That said, nobody predicted a global medical pandemic would shut down as much as it did.
Mulan's release on September 24th at a premium of $29.99 is really a last ditch effort to make some return on an investment that has little to no prospects of being profitable. With political tensions high between China and several other countries, including Canada and the US, theaters shut down or operating at reduced capacity, and weary movie-goers, it may be Disney's best chance at making lemonade out of the lemons it's got.
The truth is that Disney needs money if they want to keep producing media content and support parks that have little / no attendance for the foreseeable future. The question now becomes, will people take them up on it? And is this a sign of other releases to come?
My guess is that Mulan will test the waters since there's little prospect of it making back the money it cost due to the changing circumstances between the filming and release dates. If it can generate interest, then it may be model they can use to release other films stuck in a backlog. What will be interesting is to see how long it takes for it to join the other, non-premium releases (my guess will be Chinese New Year in February 2021).
If it is successful, it will make it possible for other movies to be shot and released. If not, then we may be in for quite the winter of recycled content on Disney+ after the second season of Mandalorian finishes.
What is clear is that we'll know in a few short weeks whether the Mulan gamble will make enough money for Disney to keep releasing films.