In a year with very few big movie releases, all eyes were on two films. There was Warner Bros.’ “Tenet,” the time-twisting spy thriller that opened exclusively in theaters at the insistence of director Christopher Nolan. Then there was “Mulan,” which Disney released on-demand for Disney+ subscribers willing to pay the premium fee of $29.99.
Disney and Warner Bros. took big risks with these releases — both movies cost in the ballpark of $200 million. “Tenet” grossed only about $30 million domestically in its first two weeks. Disney hasn’t released numbers on the “Mulan” experiment, though its chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said the company was “very pleased” with the early results.
Media analyst Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners is skeptical of that last point. He says that it would have made more sense to release “Mulan” for free on Disney+ to drive up interest in the platform, as Disney did for the release of the “Hamilton” movie.