Disney’s decision to release its Mulan remake on its streaming platform has been heavily criticized by the body representing British cinemas.
The live-action reboot was slated to hit theaters, but the company has now announced that it will be on Disney + in the US.
The UK Cinema Association has said it understands the same will happen in the UK, which is “extremely disappointing”.
Managing Director Phil Clapp said: “To many this will seem like a step backwards rather than forward. ”
Cinemas have reopened in the UK since July, but face a battle to try to bring fans back. Most of the new versions have been delayed or uploaded.
Mr Clapp said: ‘As UK cinemas now continue to reopen and welcome their customers, Walt Disney Studios’ decision yesterday to put Mulan on their Disney + service and not in theaters will be considered by much as extremely disappointing and poorly programmed. . ”
On Tuesday, Disney confirmed that the film will be available online in the US for $ 29.99 (£ 23) from September 4.
General manager Bob Chapek said the cost will vary in other countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Western Europe. But Disney has not confirmed its plans for the UK.
Mr Clapp said: “Rather than playing a new big family movie in the best possible place to see it, the cinema, audiences are instead encouraged to stay home and pay a premium price to watch it. “
Mulan, which cost around $ 200million (£ 152million) to make, will hit theaters in countries that currently do not have the Disney + platform, like China, and where theaters are returning in business, added the boss of the company.
The film was due to hit theaters in March, but it was postponed several times.
Mr Chapek called the move to Disney + “one-time,” but said the pandemic had forced the company to explore other sources of revenue.
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Although around 40% of UK cinemas have reopened, many viewers have not returned. Last weekend’s box office receipts were just 3% of the total on the same weekend last year.
Commentators have suggested that the Mulan movement could prove to be a tipping point in the battle between theatrical release and streaming.
The Guardian described it as “seismic,” Empire magazine said it was “potentially devastating news for theater chains and us movie audiences”, and The Telegraph accused Disney of “behaving like s ‘he wanted our cinemas to die’.
The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday cited a letter Disney sent to UK movie operators in which the company reportedly apologized and said the decision was not taken lightly.
He also reported a separate letter Mr Clapp sent to members of the British Cinema Association in which he called the company’s decision “downright puzzling”.
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