Mulan’s Price Point Exposed American Entitlement
On September 4th, Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 film Mulan was released for in-home streaming on Disney+. Priced at $29.99, it was a move that sparked many things, one of which was a 68% increase in Disney+ downloads.
I contributed to this percentage.
In its first weekend, the film drove an estimated $33.5 Million in revenue and a hashtag to the top of Twitter’s trending list.
The #BoycottMulan hashtag called for boycotts to the film in response to comments made by Liu Yifei, the actress who plays Mulan, last summer in support of police forces in Hong Kong, as well as evidence that scenes from the film were shot near at least 10 internment camps and five prisons in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
That wasn’t the true outage though.
In typical American fashion, the outrage was over money, not human rights.
To view Mulan, Disney+ users, who already pay $6.99/month for platform access would still need to fork over an additional $29.99 to stream the film. As someone who did not previously have Disney+, my final price was $36.98.
$36.98 to stream Mulan.
We want it cheap and we want it now!
In a LinkedIn thread reacting to this price point, members committed to canceling their membership, canceling Disney altogether, and one user went so far as to say Disney+ would have to pay him to watch it.
It was classic keyboard bravado. Words that are easy to type, but ones that the person those fingers belonged to wouldn’t dare utter to the creators of the film, nor any employee of Disney+ face to face.
Just short of online bullying, it’s mindless reactions from the types that abuse telemarketers, reply in all caps to emails they’ve subscribed to, and probably are upset about masks.
But this poor behavior exposed me to something else: How cheap we are.
We’ve gotten used to paying very little, or nothing at all, for art or entertainment.
Spotify memberships are as low as $2.50/month, billions of hours of music and video have been uploaded for free viewing on Youtube, the podcasts that soundtrack our commutes, errands, and workouts are free, as are apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. Even a platform like Netflix can be used monthly for $4 by splitting the premium plan amongst 4 users.
We’ve stopped paying for premium content because we don’t have to.
Not only do we scoff at prices, but we are also unwilling to wait.
Disney+ announced that Mulan will be made available to all members at no additional charge on December 4th.
I understand the outrage in full when it is from an individual earning minimum wage, but that is a larger conversation and I want to be sure we direct that outrage where it should be, at the government.
The national average movie ticket price in 2019 was $9.16. To me, that’s a bargain. Tickets from theatres in my community are north of $16. Even using the 2019 national average, if a family of 4 watched Mulan, they would save money.
Then, consider the inflated price of unhealthy theatre food, that in your home you can control the environment, start time, and even pause the film, and there are no crowds to battle for best seat, only a sibling.
In-home streaming provides you the opportunity to watch a film under your ideal conditions, and potentially at a lower cost.
Maybe that’s what that guy meant about having Disney+ pay him?
Through all of this, I hold no outrage toward Disney+’s decision.
I almost admire it.
Mulan’s budget was roughly $200 million and it’s recoupment of that figure took a significant hit when it’s March 9th release was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
American entitlement demands low prices and low wait times, milestones that often push companies to engage in unethical practices. With Disney+’s patience and price point, they called the American consumers bluff.
I understand there is a consumer fear here that companies will get greedy, see a customer's willingness, and allow price experiments to roll over into strategy and squeeze dollars out of us, but $29.99 won’t become the status quo, it was just a great price experiment.
And social experiment.
If you’re impatiently outraged at Mulan’s price experiment, consider that of all the things happening in the United States, you’ve decided to be upset at the price of a movie, that you most likely won’t absorb in full, about a selfless Disney Princess with a strong sense of family, honor, and courage.
P.S. The names you type in all caps to at Amazon are bots.
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