'Mulan' Release Date May Be Postponed By Disney Again

Disney is getting down to business about considering another Mulan release date delay. A new report suggests that the Walt Disney Company is seriously weighing postponing the July 24 release of Mulan, in the film's second delay due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The report comes on the heels of Disneyland delaying its re-opening indefinitely as coronavirus cases rise in the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Disney is considering pushing back the Mulan release date amid reports of rising coronavirus cases and theater locations opening more slowly than expected. The film was originally set to hit theaters in March before the pandemic hit and shuttered theaters across the country, causing Disney to push back the release to July 24.

But while AMC, Regal, and other major theater chains are confident most of their locations will be open by mid-July in time for Mulan to be the first major blockbuster to reinvigorate business, "Disney is weighing the delay because the theatrical landscape continues to be unpredictable," WSJ reports. The outlet writes:

Disney executives are expected to make a decision on "Mulan" soon, according to people familiar with the matter. The live-action reboot of the 1998 animated film cost $200 million to produce, and Disney will need to mount a marketing campaign imminently to get consumers reacquainted with the film, which was originally scheduled for release in March.

Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in the U.S., with California recently seeing a spike in cases following the state's re-opening. New York, the former epicenter of the pandemic, has also recently postponed movie theater re-openings, which would cut off one of the biggest box office markets.

The pressure to delay was increased after Tenet bumped its release date back by two weeks. The Warner Bros. espionage drama directed by Christopher Nolan has been billed as the tentpole that could revive the dire financial straits of theaters, and the studio was prepared for it to be just that with its initial July 17 release date. Disney executives depended on Tenet's earlier release too, with CEO Bob Chapek saying in a recent earnings call that the performance of Tenet at the box office would signal how well Mulan could expect to do a week later, WSJ reports. But with Warner Bros. pushing the film back to July 31, that duty goes to Mulan, which is a risk that Disney may not be ready to take.

Mulan's success will rely heavily on international markets as well, especially the Chinese box office, as the remake of the beloved 1998 Disney animated film hews more closely to the traditional Chinese myth that inspired it, to appeal to Chinese audiences. But Chinese theaters remain essentially shut.

WSJ notes that it's unlikely that Disney will debut Mulan direct to Disney+ as it did Artemis Fowl, as it would deprive the studio of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in box office revenue, which would be likely considering the explosive success of live-action remakes of The Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast.

If Disney were to delay Mulan again, it could cause a ripple effect on the rest of the summer movie seasons and "force exhibitors and other studios to re-evaluate whether current reopening schedules make sense," WSJ reports. We'll have to see if Disney is ready to get down to business and think about the safety of its audiences first.