Disney’s recently announced its third-quarter earnings this week and finally made the much-awaited announcement about its future projects. The company has seen some overall loss due to the virus outbreak. Reportedly, the company earned $11.78 billion, against analyst’s estimation of $12.39 billion. Among various announcements, the House of Mouse confirmed its big-budget blockbuster Mulan finally releasing on Video On Demand on Disney+, something fans had been long expecting for Marvel’s Black Widow.
Marvel’s Black Widow movie release marks the start of Phase 4 of the MCU. Since the start of the story just over a decade ago, fans have seen such a long gap between two Marvel releases for the very first time. As Hollywood stumbles back to production, Disney owned Marvel Studios has also started its operations in the past week.
Growing Popularity of Disney+
Disney had decided to push its new streaming platform with exclusive Marvel content in its first quarter. Kevin Feige’s 2019 SDCC announcements came under the light with a huge MCU line up for phase 4 & 5 that included Disney+ shows like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki among others.
Watch: Disney Squeaks Out Quarterly Profit, Reports 100 Million Streaming Subscribers
While the pandemic hurt big Disney profits from theatres and theme parks, Disney+ turned out to be the dark horse. CEO Bob Chapek said in his report,
“Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we’ve continued to build on the incredible success of Disney Plus as we grow our global direct-to-consumer businesses.”
He further added, “The global reach of our full portfolio of direct-to-consumer services now exceeds an astounding 100 million paid subscriptions — a significant milestone and a reaffirmation of our DTC strategy, which we view as key to the future growth of our company.”
Further, Chapek announced Disney’s plans to dump Mulan’s theatrical release and go directly to VOD for its viewers. He said, “We find it very interesting to be able to take a new offering, our premier access offering, to consumers at that $29.99 price and learn from it and see what happens not only in terms of the uptake of the number of subscribers that we get on the platform but the actual number of transactions on the Disney Plus platform that we get on that [on-demand] offering.”
Watch: Mulan on Disney Plus, Black Widow and Mandalorian Updates
Since the outbreak of the pandemic shut theatres worldwide, business in Hollywood is badly hurt. Major releases are being pushed or postponed. WB took a one-off route with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and agreed on its release in 70 countries before the US release. Mulan seems like Disney’s litmus test to test the VOD waters on its streaming platform.
Is Black Widow Next?
As announced by the company, Disney earned 1.7 Billion against 3.8 Billion in same quarter last year. The big gap in the movie business is not only due to the pandemic but also due to the MCU phase 4 being pushed further back. Last year Avengers: Endgame alone earned $2.79 billion worldwide. The report said,
“No significant titles were released in the current quarter compared to the release of Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin and Dark Phoenix in the prior-year quarter.”
Now with Disney’s theatrical arm up in the air and Mulan already coming on Video on Demand, it seems like Disney is exploring the new business model till the time theatres becoming open and profitable again. While Disney is facing the same production woes as its competition, the movie giant is using various methods to combat the losses. To start with, Disney is bringing its old content back on the Disney+ platform.
The company has turned boring licensing deals into exciting ‘Summer Movie Nights.’ The arrival of Fox’s X-Men movies each week or Pixar’s Incredibles 2 are meant to fill the gap by the time Mandalorian Season 2 comes to the platform in October.
Chapek made sure to point out that shows like WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier are high on the studios’ priority list. While Disney’s earnings aren’t great, the streaming platform seems to be the lone bright spot. In these uncertain times, it’ll be interesting to see how the mass media giant uses the streaming platform. And if Mulan’s VOD release covers some losses for Disney, how far is Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow from a similar release.
As of now Marvel’s Black Widow’s release date is set for 6 November 2020.