What is the next step for the mouse company? In a scenario where quarantine measures continue to spread across the Americas, it seems unlikely that movie theatres will return to normal between now and July 24, the date assigned for the premiere of the expected Mulan. According to Michael Nathanson, a leading Wall Street analyst, first of all, Disney will protect its profits and seek to maximize the predicted numbers, even if this means a direct digital launch.
Last year was one of the best in Disney history. Thanks to successful releases like Captain Marvel -60%, Avengers: Endgame – 95%, Toy Story 4 – 96%, The Lion King -40% and Frozen 2 – 80%, the mouse company boosted its profits to stratospheric levels. While this was unlikely to be repeated in 2020, COVID-19 completely truncated the study’s plans. The live-action of the animated classic Mulan – 86% had to have come several months ago and right now it is possible that the new release date cannot take place either, at least not in theatres.
In a recent conference call between Wall Street analysts Michael Nathanson, Craig Moffett and Nick Del Deo, specialists spoke about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on telecommunications companies and the entertainment industry. Nathanson anticipates that The Walt Disney Company’s next move could be to no longer delay Mulan’s premiere and launch it this summer on her digital platform.
It is a difficult decision to take a production of approximately $ 200 million directly into digital. Still, the fact that theatres reopen in late June does not guarantee that the film will be a success either. There is growing uncertainty in public about whether returning to public places is the best option while there is no vaccine or treatment that attacks COVID-19. Nathanson believes that Disney would be happy to raise at least 50% of the $ 1 billion it raised last year.
However, the Wall Street analyst is not convinced of the mouse company’s repeated stance to release all its films in theatres. On the one hand, it seems that the largest markets in the United States, such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, could continue to be closed until mid-August and even until fall. On the other hand, assuming Mulan managed to launch on schedule, Disney would have to bear distribution and marketing costs that it probably wouldn’t want to take in a year where it has already lost too much.
Michael Nathanson thinks that the mouse company will follow the next alternative: launch Mulan directly to Premium Video On Demand (PVOD), followed by a premiere on Disney Plus that coincides with Labor Day that is celebrated every year in the United States (the first Monday of September). In this sense, they would be following the precedent set by Trolls World Tour -62% to maximize potential profits to mitigate some of the inevitable losses they will face in 2020. The analyst added that even these measures could help Disney increase its share price, something very convenient amid the pandemic.
Fans are wishing that Mulan can be appreciated as it should be from the comfort and fullness of the on-site cinematic experience. However, there is still a long way to go with the COVID-19. Although public life in Europe and East Asia has returned to normal, America is the new epicentre of the pandemic. Surely before looking good with his followers, Disney will protect his earnings as much as possible and reserve the releases in cinemas until the beginning of Phase 4 of the MCU, Black Widow. We will have to wait for the official announcement.