Cinemas face doom as even huge movies go straight to streaming


Cinemas face doom as even huge movies go straight to streaming

Disney’s decision to release ‘Mulan’ online has raised fears about the long-term future of movie houses

Michael Cogley

When Warner Bros announced a delay in the cinema release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in July, all eyes were on Disney’s Mulan to fill the void. The $200m (about R3,5bn) live-action remake was slated for release in cinemas in August. On Tuesday, however, Disney dashed any hope that it could revive the fortunes of struggling cinemas.

Mulan will now be released directly onto its streaming service, Disney Plus, on September 4 and patrons can expect to pay $29.99 (about R520) for it. Disney is not abandoning cinemas altogether — the film will also go to theatres where conditions allow. Boss Bob Chapek attempted to downplay the move by describing it as a “one-off” and not an overall shift in strategy.

But the release decision marks an irreversible shift towards streaming and shows just how much the industry’s grip on new films is giving way. “It’s the direction of travel; if you do it for Mulan, why wouldn’t you do it for Avatar or the new Star Wars,” says Michael Hewson, an analyst at UK-based trading company CMC Markets. “Once you’ve set the precedent, it’s out there.”..

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