Monday, August 24, 2020


Okay, Disney, just-, (Annoyed sigh)

Look, just-, just tell us why you need the box office receipts for this, now?

Seriously, why? Do you not already own everything? Okay, I know this is a large production and yes, if it flops, it'll be bad for business, I know the economics of tentpole filmmaking, but you're gonna have to come up with, some explanation here. Like, did Bob Iger, like secretly pawn Mickey to pay for a blackmailing hooker or something, and now the interest has piled up, and you can't just sell Marvel without raising too many red flags or whatever, so now you absolutely need "Mulan"'s box office, like, right this minute; in the middle of a goddamn pandemic when nobody can or wants to go to a theater?

So, here's the thing, Disney's latest live-action bastardized remake of one of their animated clas-, eh..., animated features, is "Mulan", and it's probably been, one of their bigger projects in fact. Very big in fact; it's budget is $200 million. which is nothing small. Disney has had bigger, but this is defintiely something that they need to make their money back on and then some. So, I guess, in that logic, it makes some sense why Disney would be trying to make their money on, but of course, they want to make their money back soon, but so soon that they have to charge people for it, on their streaming service?

I don't think I have to explain this news if you're reading this, but for those who don't know, Disney announced that, in lieu of being able to get "Mulan" into movie theaters due to the coronavirus, that they're going to offer it as apart of their streaming service, Disney+, which last I checked, costs $14.99/month, but it's not available at that price. It's another $29.99 to see "Mulan"! $30!

I don't go to a movie for $30; I don't care what the film is. It'd have to be "The Godfather-but-10X-Better" before I'm even thinking about seeing something at that price, but I'm a cheapskate who doesn't go see movies in a theater anymore. Now, the movie, is free after that, forever; you're essentially buying it like a DVD or a-eh, digital copy, which I guess, that's what this is, but still....

Like, this isn't even out of the blue, "Mulan" has had delays after delays regarding it's release date, and Disney's not the only one, everybody having to figure out new manners of how to distribute movies during the pandemic, however Disney have seemed consistently, to be the most terrified at this and was scrambling the most for some kind of way to put this movie out to the public as soon as possible, and for the life of me, I don't get why.

It's not like it's delays or concern over whether the movie will make it's money back, I don't think anybody thinks "Mulan" is going to be a "John Carter"-level flop for Disney, and even that movie made it's money back with overseas screenings and other sales. (Remember, "John Carter" was the flop that nearly bankrupted Disney) Arguably this has been the most anticipated of all of Disney's live-action reboots yet. I know I'm actually somewhat excited for this one.

Not, I'm-buying-it-blind-for-$30, on-a-streaming-service-that-I'm-amazed-that-I-even-have-at-this-moment excited, but excited. I mean,- maybe this is just me, but I never liked the original "Mulan". I didn't hate it exactly, but of all the Disney Renaissance movies, I genuinely forget that one even exists unless someone mentions it. I think it's got, one truly amazing sequence, with the avalanche, which I absolutely thought was amazing even as a kid, but other then that, average music, few memorable characters..., (Shrugs) I guess, it's a daring idea for Disney; they hadn't really done, any non-western myths or fairy tales before, so that was nice, and I like that it's a story of a female determined to be a soldier; that's inspiring. Yet, it always felt, small to me, especially for such a massive story.

 And, you know, I never though much about it, but, perhaps what it needed was for it to, well, not be animated. I mean, I'm not a trailer guy, but look at this:

Look at how rich and lushful this is; it feels epic, like it should. And, the animated one, I mean, it tried to replicate that, and Disney can be miracle workers, but it's hard to do it every time, and-, well, I always thought the animation, and some of the ideas that come with the freedom to animate, essentially, cheapened it. (Also, I mean, it means they didn't necessarily have to give work to as many asian actors. I mean, Eddie Murphy's the easy target, but I can't be the only one who thought, "Really, for Shang's singing voice Disney, you got Donny Osmond? Sometimes, it felt like they were trying to not only not be Asian, but to be as far from Asian as they possibly could) Seriously, this is the first reboot, I'm actually curious to see, because I think it has the most potential to actually be better then the animated version.

Still though, do I want to own it? I'm not even sure I want to see it myself, and you know, what if I only want to see it that one time? Can I return it to Disney+ and get some money back? Can I also, just wait until it's free on Disney+? What happens if the coronavirus ends, and you send the movie to proper theaters, will they still want to see it then? Does it come off Disney+ temporarily, or does it get cheaper, or does it become free? When does it become available on Disney+ for the regular price? And if this flops, will it be the only thing on Disney+ at that price? That can be very embarassing if two years down the way, I can watch the next Marvel film for $15 at a matinee, but still have to pay $30 at home to see "Mulan"?

There's a lot of unanswered questions for this, and I think that's by far the biggest question mark with this decision. And again, why are they rushing this, forcing it's way into making money? You know, if the stockholders are really that pushy about it, you can just, tell them to sell their stock! That's allowed, you know?

I seriously feel like I'm completely missing something with this; I mean, it's not like they're the only major studio that's had to put everything on hold; they all have, and yet, this screeches of a move that makes me think Disney's in far bigger trouble then we might realize. I mean, this is pretty low when you think about it; they're asking people who are already paying customers to pay more for one thing, and one thing only, in order for, Disney, of all companies, to make a profit, in the middle of a fucking pandemic!!!! A profit, that, if they can wait it out, they should be able to easily make back, like-, not even with American screening; they can make this money back and then-some on the foreign market once other countries starts getting coronavirus contained.

And yet, this could still work. This stupid thing could not only still work, but, it could be the beginning of the new condition in the movie distribution world.

For one, let's look at the potential profits. In order for Disney to recoup their entire costs in this one move, they need 1 in 5 subscribers to pay the $30 for "Mulan"? It's a gamble, it's risky,... but it's actually pretty calculated. Even if it doesn't make it that far, it could still spread positive word of mouth and gain back everything they don't later when it does his theaters as well as regular streaming and DVD sales, not to mention that overseas box office numbers.

More then that though, can it work for Disney? Sure, I'm not hoping it does, but if it does work, then well, I mean, goodbye movie theaters, forever.

Okay, maybe not forever, but Hollywood's been experimenting with multiple outlets of distribution at once since...- eh, well for a lot longer then most people realize. Like, since "Bubble"!

Hold on, am I only one who remembers "Bubble"? Yeah, this was Steven Soderbergh's-ehhh, it's actually a really strange improvise indy movie with mostly non-actors, revolving around people working in a dollhead factory.... It's actually a great movie; it's easily his best of the post-Oscar win slumming it by going back to his indy roots films, but yeah, it's-eh...- Steven Soderbergh's has had a much weirder career then I think people give him credit for. Like, he was well into the "Ocean's" movies thing, at this time- and like, yeah, he would go from blockbuster to indy experiment, to whatever-the-hell "Full Frontal" was, all the time, but this was odd, and out there even for him. However, the movie itself important here, the important thing was how "Bubble" was distributed.

"Bubble" was weirdly released, in theaters, on DVD and on cable on PPV at the same time; and it was the first movie to try this multiple platform distribution idea; if my memory serves me right, I saw the film on DVD originally. The distribution format was mostly looked at as a curiosity at the time but in time, the consensus was that, this kind of multiple distribution platforms idea was going to be interesting and okay for indy films and lower budgets productions, and that for the most is pretty accurated. This is all back when the idea of multiple streaming options was a glimmer in Reed Hastings's eye, but yeah, essentially we're now there. Even in a large city with several movie theaters, not during a pandemic, you have to scour for anything that isn't the biggest studio blockbuster in theaters and it's just easier now to screen a few weeks at an indy theater in L.A. and then go on Netflix or Amazon and show everybody while the big budget films from the major studio would monopolize most of the rest of the theater screenings.

However, now, we're getting, the big studios, big, giant tentpole projects, being released on streaming, for the price of a theater ticket, plus extra for digital ownership essentially. My concern is, even if this fails, the next studio that does this, might pull it off. Hell, Disney owns most of the properties that can do this. "Star Wars", "Marvel", "Simpsons", all Disney. However, like, I can easily see every other studio, each with their own streaming service, suddenly doing similar stuff, and especially with people less likely to attend overpriced movie theaters then ever. Why go to the theater to be overcharged for a sub-par blockbuster and stale popcorn when you can be overcharged for it at home?!?!


It can work! And Disney is powerful enough to be the guinea pig with this film. I'm against it, but so what if I'm against it; I was also the one warning that streaming was a bad idea because it'll cost the customer too much and that it's gonna be hell to watch everything we want to because everything will be on multiple services that'll each overcharge all of us, even if we only wanna watch one or two things on it, and that's what happened, and perhaps most of my fears back then were misplaced, but it's still not great for everyone that we have to sort through so many different services, and make judgment calls on which shows I might want to watch that month...- (Sigh) I digress, but that's what gonna happen.

Maybe this version of the experiment of releasing a single tentpole blockbuster directly to the home through a streaming service will be successful or maybe it won't, but the first one through the wall, means that the second one will go through it easier. So, whether it makes sense for Disney to do this now or not, (It's not) or whether it succeeds, the inevitability of this means that mine and everyone else's thoughts on it are self-defeating. If it wasn't gonna be Disney and "Mulan" it was sure-as-Hell gonna be somebody else and soon. COVID-19, just sped this up a couple years and created a new condition where the audience is more willing to accept this idea then ever before.

So, I'm still sketchy about Disney's reasoning and motives for this, and I'm genuinely hoping this fails, 'cause this is just, not good; it's not good for us, it's not good for the future of movie theaters if and when they ever come back, and it's probably not gonna be great for the lower-budgets indy originals that this could really be hurting in the future..., but-eh, I'm not saying it ain't gonna work, but even if it doesn't, the precedent's set, folks. This is the future of film viewing and film distribution. I mean, if it's $30 for this now on TV, when's it gonna be twice that at the movie theaters? Probably sooner then you think right now.

Honestly, I'm dreading the results of this "Mulan" experiment, no matter what they are. Not because I'm not favor of technological progress in the media and the arts but because I'm not in favor of this progress, but even if I don't like, progress doesn't stop. Film is the populous medium and in theory anyway, anything that makes that more easily and readily available to many people as possible, literally right in their living rooms. I mean, that's where we're heading anyway, we might as well enjoy it....

As for me though, I'm not enjoying "Mulan" for $30. Screw that! I'll just watch "Hamilton" again.

...No one else was the room where it happens 
the room where it happens
the room where it happens...- 

Yeah, I wonder who was in the room at Disney when they made this decision, don't you...?

No comments: