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‘Raya’ Drives Fewer Disney+ Premier Access Subscriptions Than ‘Mulan’

Ben Bowman

While Disney+ has been on a remarkable run past 100 million subscribers, its Premier Access strategy hasn’t caught on as well as the company might have hoped. Analytics firm Antenna tracked the performance of the latest extra-fee release on the platform: “Raya and the Last Dragon.”

Antenna notes that “Raya” pulled in 20% fewer PVOD purchases than “Mulan” in its opening weekend. But it is important to note that “Mulan” never got a theatrical run, while “Raya” opened in theaters on the same date it was available on Disney+.

The new film also didn’t offer a boost to regular Disney+ subscriptions, which fell 30% from the week prior.

Antenna may have identified Disney’s core audience for these Premier Access titles. They were the earliest adopters of Disney+ when the service launched in 2019. Those Disney mega-fan early subscribers made up more than 70% of “Mulan” purchasers and nearly 60% of those who paid for “Raya and the Last Dragon.”

Raya and the Last Dragon

March 3, 2021

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people.

It seems the added $29.99 fee may be too steep for the bulk of Disney+ subscribers, especially when the film will be included in the regular subscription if users are willing to be patient. The biggest test of the Premier Access offering will probably come this summer with Marvel’s “Black Widow.” The much-hyped film would be the first entry in the MCU in more than two years. While many fans may prefer to see the film in theaters, the price point may not be as much of a barrier for dedicated fans of the superhero genre.

Disney may not care whether its audience uses the theater or the home theater, but the inconsistent approach to Premier Access may backfire among its creative community. Pixar’s “Onward” was an unfortunate early casualty of the pandemic, but the studio’s “Soul” was released without Premier Access, and the upcoming “Luca” will get the same treatment.

Time will tell whether Premier Access is a successful strategy moving forward or whether Disney should go back to theatrical-only windows. But its first two titles with the upcharge haven’t moved the needle. In hindsight, the title that might have performed best with the strategy was “Hamilton.” That film was a huge event that didn’t really fit with the rest of the Disney+ catalog, and it drove a ton of new subscriptions, many of which have since lapsed.

  • Mulan

    September 4, 2020

    When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Chinese Army to defend the country from Huns, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. She is spirited, determined and quick on her feet. Disguised as a man by the name of Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her innermost strength and embrace her true potential.

  • Onward

    February 29, 2020

    In a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there.

  • Soul

    December 25, 2020

    Joe Gardner is a middle school teacher with a love for jazz music. After a successful gig at the Half Note Club, he suddenly gets into an accident that separates his soul from his body and is transported to the You Seminar, a center in which souls develop and gain passions before being transported to a newborn child. Joe must enlist help from the other souls-in-training, like 22, a soul who has spent eons in the You Seminar, in order to get back to Earth.

  • Hamilton

    July 3, 2020

    Presenting the tale of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, this filmed version of the original Broadway smash hit is the story of America then, told by America now.

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