Disney’s highly anticipated live-action Mulan film was originally set to release in theaters on March 27th. Then, the global pandemic hit and theaters worldwide shuttered their doors leaving movie studios scrambling to postpone film release dates and reorganize their entire theatrical release calendar. Mulan was pushed off to the end of July and more recently delayed again to August 21st.
Now, with COVID-19 cases on the rise again in major cities all across the United States, it’s looking more and more unlikely that Mulan will be able to hit next month’s target date leading to the question…Does Disney postpone the release date again?….Or, do they consider skipping the theaters altogether and premiere the film on Disney+.
Industry experts think its increasingly doubtful that Mulan will make its way to theaters next month. Adding that another tentpole film, Tenet from Warner Brothers which was scheduled to premiere on August 12th, will also be forced to rethink its strategy.
Eric Handler, MKM analyst, recently told the New York Post, “We place a low likelihood of ‘Tenet’ opening on August 12 given a rising number of COVID-19 cases in key areas such as California, Texas and Florida along with the slowed re-opening of the New York City economy,” Handler said. “In our view, it would be surprising to see theaters able to re-open nationwide before September, at the earliest.”
Disney investors, however are speculating that the remake could skip theaters entirely and go straight to Disney+. Disney’s Hamilton recent release on the streaming service was a huge success driving Disney+ app downloads up by 74%.
For Disney, sending Mulan straight to streaming service would appear to make economic sense even if it would “deliver a death blow to theaters,” said LightShed analyst Rich Greenfield. Disney currently drives 40 to 50 percent of the worldwide box office.
He went on to say, “A movie like ‘Mulan,’ pre-COVID, expected to do north of $1 billion at the box office. If an average movie ticket is $10 that means that 100 million people would need to buy a ticket for ‘Mulan’ to hit its numbers. It seems hard to fathom right now.”
Alan Horn, Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, and Alan Bergman, Co-Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios released the following joint statement in June:
“While the pandemic has changed our release plans for ‘Mulan’ and we will continue to be flexible as conditions require, it has not changed our belief in the power of this film and its message of hope and perseverance. Director Niki Caro and our cast and crew have created a beautiful, epic, and moving film that is everything the cinematic experience should be, and that’s where we believe it belongs – on the world stage and the big screen for audiences around the globe to enjoy together.”
Disney has stuck to its guns about keeping Mulan a theatrical release and not releasing it to On-Demand or straight to Disney+. Additionally, Disney already has a live-action Mulan sequel in the works, which depends on the financial success of this film, which could only be achieved on the big screen.
You can check out the official trailer for Mulan below which has already achieved an impressive 15+ million views.
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father.
Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
Mulan features a celebrated international cast that includes: Yifei Liu as Mulan; Donnie Yen as Commander Tung; Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan; Yoson An as Cheng Honghui; with Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor. The film is directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Elizabeth Martin & Lauren Hynek based on the narrative poem “The Ballad of Mulan.”