Let’s get pissy.
Not sure if you all heard, but the new Mulan will stream for a whopping $30 on Disney+ sometime this fall. This is about triple what I expect to pay for a hard copy of a movie. For me, this is the icing on the cake of a new and exploitative trend in film.
I’ve heard the argument in favor of the $20 rental during a global pandemic. Sure, this cost is equivalent to an evening showing for two, and I suppose large households will see this as a good deal. However, what annoys me is that this is actually more than many theater tickets and you don’t get any of the theater experience. This is simply studios trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of their films.
Yes, yes, we all know that movies do in fact need to make money. However, is such an exorbitant fee the best way to do it? I refuse to pirate, and I also refuse to rent a film for that much money, so I guess I’m a bit screwed.
What this rant is really worried about is that we are now being asked to pay the same fee for temporary access we used to be able to purchase permanently for. This doesn’t make a lot of sense as the overhead of digital streaming is less than a brick and mortar theater, so why not give the consumer a break? For decades we have complained about theater prices, so to see this rental fee met with more or less indifference from consumers strikes me as quite odd. I think this is mainly due to the illusion of options or choices that entrap us all into spending more money than we used to for entertainment.
I’ve railed against the numerous streaming options before, and this idea of premium rentals coming through streaming services is the next logical step in pulling harder on a divided audience. I’m imagining we’ll eventually see tiered memberships for streaming services that offer even more access for even more money. We’re continually being asked to pay more for less.
Combine this with the resurgence of director’s cuts and unrated editions (notice how those went away for a bit?) we’ll end up having to pay even more for the entire experience. The idea that you have a streaming membership, pay an additional fee to see a movie, and then pay another additional fee to see the director’s cut is entirely plausible. That is three fees for one movie!
I think the new Mulan film looks okay. I’m sure I’ll be underwhelmed, but it will have the standard Disney shine. I have no ill-will towards the director, actors, or techs who worked on the film. However, I want this film to flop. I know saying that makes me a jerk, but this is a test run to see how much a streaming service can get away with.
It is no coincidence that they are choosing Mulan as their sacrificial lamb to test the waters. With international relations heated, Hong Kong protests, and political statements from the actors, the film has become somewhat controversial. (Full disclosure: I don’t really care about any of the controversies as a viewer). The film may have underperformed due to all the crap surrounding it before lockdowns began. Now, this is the perfect shiny blockbuster to test out. If it fails, it wasn’t the films fault, but rather the circumstances (at least that is what they’ll say). If it is a success, we’ll see even more companies try this ridiculous nonsense.
I know a lot of people are excited to see some blockbusters, but we need to be patient and not allow companies to get away with ripping us off. Let’s just avoid these fees… please.