Disney's 'Mulan' date decision affects the entire movie theater industry

Just last month, it looked like Disney had figured out his summer movie schedule: the much-anticipated live action remake of “Mulan” would hit US theaters on July 24, after it originally released on March 27 had been postponed. And Disney (DIS) would have the advantage of seeing a competitor's blockbuster, Christopher Nolan's Tenet, do for the July 17 release.
Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney, even said on May 5 in the company's second-quarter earnings call: “We're going to get a pretty good idea of ​​[cinema-goer confidence] because there is a competitive film that will open a week before our film . At this point, we hope that there will be an appearance of normalcy again. "
Now that COVID 19 cases have increased again in a number of countries, the plans have changed.
On June 12, Warner Brothers (T) delayed the release of Tenet from July 17-31. ("Wonder Woman 1984" was also released from August 14th to October 2nd.) On Thursday Warner Brothers pushed "Tenet" again until August 12th. This leaves "Mulan" the first test of the cinema industry to see if the Americans are ready to sit in a theater.
Disney is now considering pushing "Mulan" again, according to the Wall Street Journal.
That would make a lot of sense, especially since Disney has just delayed the reopening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, which is scheduled for July 17 after the resort union coalition planned to protest the reopening and after California announced that it will not be published Guide to reopening the theme park until after July 4th.
Disney World’s reopening in Orlando, Florida is scheduled for July 11, but this date is also expected to be generally postponed.
A poster of Walt Disney Studios' "Mulan" film, scheduled for release on March 27, is perched on an empty Hollywood boulevard during the worldwide Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. USA, March 31, 2020. REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson
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What Disney will do next regarding the release date of "Mulan" will affect the entire cinema industry. AMC announced last week that it would reopen 450 of its US theaters on July 15. But without "Mulan" on July 24th, why reopen? The theaters would not have an anchor blockbuster to show.
In a way, it now looks like a game of chicken between Disney and Warner Brothers: Neither of the two studios wants to be the first to attempt a big box office release amid the pandemic. And the reopening of cinemas this summer is extremely controversial. When AMC first announced that it would reopen the cinemas, it said that movie-goers didn't need to wear masks. CEO Adam Aron told Variety on June 18: "We didn't want to be involved in a political controversy ... if we forced people to wear masks who firmly believed that it wasn't necessary." The comments were sharply criticized.
It took less than 24 hours for the company to reverse course, saying that masks would be required at all theaters (AMC said, "We didn't go far enough"), but the damage was done.
Amidst the numerous delays at Disney, some have wondered if Disney may release Mulan on Disney + to attract new subscribers. Disney switched Disney On to "Onward" earlier than planned in April, just a month after its theatrical release, and released "Artemis Fowl" directly on Disney + this month.
But it is unlikely that this will happen to "Mulan" after the last live action remakes of mega cash cows at the box office: "Aladdin" and "Lion King" both have more than $ 1 billion last year Paid in dollars. Disney is probably willing to wait until moviegoers demonstrate their comfort to bring Mulan to the cinemas and reap ticket sales. In the meantime, theater chains have both Disney and Warner Brothers in sight.
This story was updated on June 26 at 12:49 am EST with the latest delay from Tenet.
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Daniel Roberts is chief editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.
Read more about how coronavirus affects the entertainment industry:
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Disney's "Mulan" will see Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" as a health test for the cinema
Coronavirus forces Quibi, NBC Peacock, to change their plans at launch
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