Disney Delays ‘Mulan’ a Month to Aug. 21 in Latest Reshuffle

Walt Disney Co. will delay the release of its new “Mulan” film for a second time, setting the movie back about a month to Aug. 21, in the latest reshuffling to hit movie theaters.

“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,” Alan Horn and Alan Bergman, co-chairmen of Walt Disney Studios, said in a joint statement.

The move sets up Christopher Nolan’s thriller “Tenet” to be the first potential blockbuster since the outbreak hit, assuming it doesn’t get rescheduled again too. That film was delayed twice and is now slated for Aug. 12. Disney has another movie, the supernatural horror thriller, “The Empty Man,” scheduled for an Aug. 7 release.

“Mulan” a $200 million live-action remake of the 1998 animated hit of the same name, was already being marketed for a debut in March when the coronavirus prompted the closure of theaters all over the world.

Disney executives were hoping that some of that marketing -- such as the film’s red-carpet premiere, merchandise introductions and interviews with stars -- would carry forward to the new release date. It had previously been scheduled for July 24.

Cinema executives said they’re staying flexible with the pandemic still disrupting life across the U.S. They are mostly planning to reopen in July, but without fresh content, already skittish consumers are unlikely to return in large numbers. “Mulan” wasn’t on the only movie rescheduled on Friday. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. pushed back the comedy “Bill & Ted Face the Music” by two weeks until Aug. 28.

Hollywood has also been releasing its films on home video or streaming platforms to capture some dollars and promote those new services. Disney+, for example, is releasing “Hamilton,” a filmed version of the Broadway show on July 3. The musical was originally scheduled to appear in theaters next year.

Movies have been a huge profit driver for Disney, thanks in part to remakes of classic films such as “Jungle Book” and “Aladdin.” The studio generated nearly $2.9 billion in operating income last year, or 18% of the company’s total.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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