by Xinhua writer Gao Shan
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Disney's long-awaited China-set live-action film "Mulan" will be released via streaming in the United States next month, the Hollywood entertainment giant said Tuesday.
On a call with investors, Disney executives said that the upcoming epic fantasy war drama film directed by Niki Caro will premiere on Sept. 4 on Disney+, the company's streaming service, for 29.99 U.S. dollars.
"Mulan" will also be available to Disney+ subscribers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some European countries. The film will be released in theaters in markets without Disney+.
Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek said the company was forced to "consider different approaches and look for new opportunities" amid the ongoing pandemic.
"We're looking at 'Mulan' as a one-off as opposed to saying there's some new business windowing model that we're looking at," Chapek noted.
"Mulan" has been delayed multiple times in response to the pandemic. Disney announced last month that it would postpone indefinitely the release of "Mulan." The film was first scheduled to hit U.S. theaters on March 27 but was later rescheduled to July 24, before being delayed to Aug. 21.
Based on the legend of an ancient Chinese heroine, the film is an adaptation of Disney's 1998 animated film of the same name. Mulan, according to folk legend, lived during a tumultuous era in Chinese history more than 1,400 years ago. She disguised herself as a man to serve in the army in place of her aged father and fight for her country.
The film, which cost 200 million U.S. dollars to make, stars Liu Yifei in the title role, with Gong Li as a powerful and dangerous witch, Donnie Yen as an army commander, and Jet Li as the emperor.
Disney on Tuesday reported significant quarterly loss in its fiscal third quarter due to the pandemic, noting that theatrical distribution in the quarter was negatively impacted by COVID-19 as theaters were generally closed domestically and internationally.
The company's overall revenues in the three-month period fell 42 percent year-over-year to 11.78 billion U.S. dollars.
"Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we've continued to build on the incredible success of Disney+ as we grow our global direct-to-consumer businesses," said Chapek in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the company now has an astounding 100 million paid subscriptions across its direct-to-consumer services, including Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN.
"Mulan" and Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" underpin the hopes of both Hollywood and U.S. cinema owners of salvaging the usually profitable summer season. Warner Bros. announced last week that "Tenet" will hit the big screen in over 70 countries worldwide starting on Aug. 26 ahead of U.S. release in select cities on Sept. 3.
Variety magazine noted Disney's move is "yet another stark indication of studios' dwindling faith that movie theaters will be able to safely reopen in the near future, especially at the scale necessary to support mega-budgeted tentpole filmmaking."
The magazine pointed out that the lack of a theatrical release for "Mulan" is a huge loss for exhibitors.
"The decision to now bypass cinemas and debut the family adventure on Disney+ is a major blow for theater owners who were counting on playing both that film and Warner Bros.' Tenet upon reopening later this month," commented another entertainment industry magazine, the Hollywood Reporter.
"With a potential Disney+ windfall, will studio still need movie theaters?" asked the online news website, Deadline Hollywood, noting that many exhibitors were blindsided by Disney's decision. Enditem