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‘Mulan’ streaming release brings jump in Disney+ app Downloads

“Mulan,” a live-action remake of the 1998 animated hit, was released online Friday. “Mulan,” a live-action remake of the 1998 animated hit, was released online Friday.
“Mulan,” a live-action remake of the 1998 animated hit, was released online Friday. (AP)

To see the film, customers of its $7-a-month Disney+ service have to pay an additional $30 -- an approach the company hasn’t attempted before.

Downloads of Walt Disney Co.’s streaming app rose 68% over the weekend, a sign its unorthodox release of “Mulan” through the service helped drive demand.

In addition to the surge in downloads, consumer spending on the app climbed 193% compared with a week earlier, according to preliminary data from Sensor Tower Inc.

“Mulan,” a live-action remake of the 1998 animated hit, was released online Friday after the pandemic prompted Disney to scrub its U.S. theatrical rollout. To see the film, customers of its $7-a-month Disney+ service have to pay an additional $30 -- an approach the company hasn’t attempted before. Disney is releasing the film in theaters in countries that don’t have the streaming platform.

The unusual premium video download is considered a test of whether streaming subscribers are willing to pay extra fees to purchase content. The Covid-19 crisis, which shut down theaters around the world, has prompted Hollywood studios to experiment with different release strategies. Comcast Corp.’s Universal Studios made its “Trolls World Tour” film available online in April for a $20 fee.

In July, Disney put “Hamilton” -- a filmed version of the Broadway show -- on its streaming service at no additional cost. “Hamilton” generated a 79% gain in week-over-week app downloads the weekend it was released, Sensor Tower said.

The numbers only reflect downloads from the Apple Inc. and Google online stores and not other ways that customers could subscribe to Disney+ and purchase “Mulan,” such as through devices from Roku Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.

It may take longer to get a complete picture of how “Mulan” did. Disney isn’t expected to immediately release purchase numbers.

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