So I decided to surprise my girlfriend with an early birthday present. Growing up, her favorite Disney movie was Mulan and she has expressed to me multiple times that she was absolutely obsessed with that movie. So I thought it’d be nice to swallow the 30 bucks so that we could watch it in good quality and not have to worry about playback issues that I usually run into when I try to stream movies on my Fire stick. After the movie was finished, I was convinced that Disney charging $30 for Mulan (or any movie, for that matter) is just absurd.
You know how the story goes. Mulan’s is not your average 15th century Chinese girl. She was never destined to get married and live the life that society was trying to thrust onto her. Her old, crippled father accepted the call to action to fight in the war, however, Mulan stole his armor and took his place while hiding the fact the she is a woman. She trains, fights in the war, saves the Emperor and she becomes a hero. The problem I had with 2020’s Mulan is not the story, but the execution. There are obvious instances where filler scenes were cut to the point where Mulan would be in one spot and then end up 300 yards away after a cut and it leaves you wondering, “Wait, how did she get there?” The missing scenes also leaves something to be desired in terms of the secondary character developments. Throughout the film, Mulan had relationships and conversations with other soldiers that just felt awkward and out of place.
Another critique I had with the film was that some characters from the animated movie were cut or replaced. For example, Mushu (dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy), Cri-kee (the cricket), and Khan (Mulan’s horse) were not in this film and the only non-human companion that Mulan had was a phoenix that flew in circles around her a couple of times but never really interacted with her. Disney’s decision to remove the animated movie’s comic-relief characters was part of a larger goal of giving 2020’s Mulan a darker, more down-to-earth theme. I believe that the film suffered greatly for that decision as it felt like something was missing and caused it to have a conflicting tone. Most, if not all, of Disney’s movies are made for younger audiences while keeping the adults in mind but 2020’s Mulan felt like the exact opposite of that formula. Disney took a very successful kids movie, made it for adults, but then dumbed it down so that kids could watch it. The result was a very bland, at times corny re-write that should’ve been at least 2.5 hours long instead of right under the 120 minute mark.
It’s hard to believe that Disney spent around $200 million dollars on a film that felt like a fan-made project that belongs on YouTube. Due to the pandemic, Disney was only able to make about $45 million off of theatre sales, which leaves $155 million left to break even. Assuming that’s the goal, Disney would need to make it’s Disney+ subscribers purchase Mulan 5,166,666 times at $30 each. Now you’re probably thinking, “That’s a lot of people that would have to buy it.” Well, as of August 4th of this year, there were over 60 million Disney+ subscribers which means that less than 8.6% of all subscribers would have to buy Mulan for it to break even. Now I’m willing to bet that Disney did better than break even, however, they have not released the final numbers yet and probably won’t for the foreseeable future.
In conclusion, I probably won’t pay $30 for a movie-on-demand ever again. I saw a lot of Disney apologists on social media saying stupid shit like: “Well, actually, by the time you buy at least 2 adult tickets, popcorn, snacks, and drinks you’ve spent way more than $30.” First of all, that’s still expensive as fuck. Second of all, not everyone is dumb with their money and blows it on a $15 bag of popcorn. Third of all, you pay that premium price to enjoy the experience of going to a movie theater. In this case, you pay $30 to sit on your couch and it doesn’t include food, drink, etc. Finally, if you are going to charge $30 for a digital movie, at least make it a good movie.