Today in news that isn’t good for theaters: Mulan has allegedly made more money on its premium Disney+ VOD run than Tenet‘s entire box office haul so far. The keyword here is “allegedly” since the numbers are a bit sketchy, but if reports are to be believed, it certainly looks like more audiences have plopped down their hard-earned cash to watch Mulan from the safety of their homes rather than venture out to a theater to see the latest from Christopher Nolan.
All summer, we heard the same story: Tenet will save movie theaters. Sadly, that didn’t happen. For one thing, Christopher Nolan’s latest cerebral blockbuster was unable to stick to its mid-summer release date. And when the movie finally did open this month, the results were not great, to say the least. Reports differ, but as of now, it looks like Nolan’s film made only $29 million domestically – which isn’t great for a film of this size. Worldwide, the total is around $207 million.
Making matters worse (for theaters) are reports that Disney scored a big windfall when they opted to release Mulan on Disney+ with an extra premium price rather than risk a wide theatrical release. Per Yahoo, “29% of U.S. households that subscribe to Disney+ purchased the $30 Mulan film through September 12th — far surpassing other popular (and free) titles on the platform.”
So how does that compare to Tenet? Well:
During the company’s last earnings report, Disney said that the streaming platform has amassed over 60 million global subscribers. Assuming that U.S. households make up 50% of that total base (Disney has not yet broken out the exact number of U.S-based subscribers)…data suggests that roughly 9 million users purchased the “Mulan” film for $30 a pop (29% of our estimated 30 million users.)…Under that scenario, net profits would pile up to $261 million for U.S. markets alone — and that’s on the conservative side.
In other words, Mulan made more money domestically than Tenet has made worldwide so far. Of course, it’s worth noting that a lot of these numbers come from third-party analysts, as Disney+ doesn’t release their official numbers for stuff like this. So there’s a chance this isn’t 100% correct. But it strongly suggests that, at least for now, there’s more money to be made on premium VOD than there is in theaters. Obviously, exhibitors aren’t going to like this, since it puts their entire business in jeopardy.
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