In a widely anticipated move, Disney has once again delayed its live-action adaptation of Mulan, this time indefinitely.
“Over the last few months, it’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and today that means pausing our release plans for Mulan as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world,” a Disney spokesperson told Variety.
This marks the latest round of delays for Mulan; it was originally supposed to be released on March 27th, but was pushed to July 24th. Then, Disney delayed it again to August 21st — one week before Disney is still set to debut The New Mutants. Disney has also moved around a number of other titles, including the upcoming Avatar and Star Wars films.
Every Avatar and Star Wars movie will move back one year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. For example, Avatar 2 will move to December 2022. An untitled live-action Disney movie will take the December 2021 release date, according to the Reporter. The next Star Wars movie scheduled for December 2022 will move back to 2023. Whether or not it’s Taika Waititi’s Star Wars movie is unclear.
Disney’s decision to delay Mulan comes on the heels of Warner Bros. delaying Tenet indefinitely. The studios have played a game of release date chicken with one another, delaying their respective films a couple of weeks at a time. Disney CEO Bob Chapek alluded to watching how Tenet played out in theaters before releasing Mulan. While Tenet director Christopher Nolan was more than happy to be the first guy back in theaters, Warner Bros. has to think about how it can “ensure the highest odds of success for our films,” as Emmerich said in his statement. As theaters in key areas like Los Angeles and New York remain closed, it’s basically impossible for Disney and Warner Bros. to release their films.
While Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich announced that the company will “will share a new 2020 release date imminently for Tenet,” there’s no concrete date attached to the film.
“We’re grateful for the support we’ve received from exhibitors and remain steadfast in our commitment to the theatrical experience around the world,” Emmerich said. “Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to proliferate, causing us to reevaluate our release dates.”
Like Tenet, Mulan isn’t the type of film that Disney can simply make a digital or streaming exclusive. Before the pandemic, both Mulan and Tenet could have passed $1 billion at the global box office. Making Mulan a digital exclusive not only affects Disney’s overall revenue on the film, but would also further escalate tense relationships between theater exhibitors like AMC or Regal, and the studio itself. Other films, however, have gone straight to Disney Plus, including Artemis Fowl and Hamilton.
Now the big question is what happens to one of Disney’s biggest movies of the year — Black Widow. The Scarlett Johansson Marvel movie was supposed to be released in May, but was pushed back to November. If things don’t change much between then and now, this could be the first year without a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since 2009.
Update July 23rd, 5:16pm ET: Updated to include additional details about Star Wars and Avatar dates moving.