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TIMO ZIMMERMANN

balancing software engineering & infosec

Thoughts on the Disney+ Mulan digital release

posted on Saturday 22nd of August 2020 in ,

Mulan will see an early digital release on Disney+. Considering all that is going on right now this is not really a surprise to me. What I find more curious is that so few movies were released digitally so far. Sure, you lose out in the box office, but considering people are sitting at home, with a lot of time looking for something to distract them I am not sure that would have been a big loss. Disney decided that you will have to pay $30 for early access to the movie before it becomes part of the monthly subscription offering.

I still believe the current trend of forcing people into multiple subscriptions will give large scale piracy a revival. And I am also still convinced that splitting platforms is a customer hostile behaviour. Yet all of them who did it, be it gaming or movies, got away with it so far and seem to be doing just fine. So the market spoke. And while I am not yet a Disney+ customer their offering seems appealing.

I have seen some people complain that you have to maintain your subscription to be allowed to pay $30 for the movie. Well, it is a subscription based platform and you are paying for premium access. As someone who grew up with Premiere, later acquired by Sky, and had to pay for blockbusters before they became part of your regular program this seems like a pretty normal thing. But I can also see why people who believe content costs $2 and professional grade software a maximum of $5.99 in an App Store would consider this a rip-off.

My biggest wish would be more publishers doing exactly this. Charge me a premium between $20 and $40 and let me watch the movie at home when it is officially released in my country. I would not go so far and ask for a world wide release on the same date (this seems to be too confusing for movie studios). But simply no more extra waiting time while the movie is running exclusively in cinemas. The moment we get that the price is more than okay to me.

If I do not want to wait 6 month to see a movie – and the amount of movies I am not willing to wait for is declining – I have to drive 25 to 45 minutes to a theatre. Often I have to pay for parking. Now add two tickets. Or make it two really expensive ones ($34 per ticket) if you want to sit comfortably and shielded from the noise and smartphone screens of the rest of the audience. If my wife fancies it add popcorn or a drink as bringing your own water bottle is even more problematic than forgetting to empty it before a checkpoint at an airport.

Watching a movie in a cinema is way more expensive than $20 to $40 (at least if you assume an audience of >1). It is less comfortable. The snacks suck. And our home cinema is better than some of the theatres around here. I would see same day or early digital releases as an absolute win and would most likely watch far more movies at home than I do right now.