Disney's live-action Mulan will hold its previously announced July 24 release date, confirms Disney CEO Bob Chapek. On April 3, Disney shifted the Niki Caro-directed re-imagining of the 1998 animated film from its long held March 27 release date to its current date of late July, where it will open one week after Christopher Nolan's Tenet scheduled for July 17. The four-month delay came amid the indefinite closures of the biggest movie theater chains — some of which are now anticipating July re-openings — due to coronavirus. Disney similarly postponed the release of tentpoles Black Widow, moving the Marvel Studios movie from May to November, before bumping Pixar's Soul from June to late November.
The former Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products told CNBC's Squawk Alley he anticipates "pent-up" demand for both the re-opening of Disney's domestic theme parks as well as its slate of theatrical releases.
"I think it's going to be a stair step situation, just like it's going to be in our parks," Chapek said. "I think there's a lot of pent-up demand, on the other hand, that viewers, fans of movies want to go see."
On the proposed plans of exhibitors to re-open theaters with limited capacity, Chapek said, "It really becomes only an issue on Friday night and Saturday night, and to a lesser extent, on Sunday night. So it doesn't really push the limits of what would typically be seen as occupancy inside movie theaters until you get to those weekend evenings. And in that particular case, I think that can be managed. I think it will be up to our exhibitors who we partner with."
Asked if Disney should have held out longer with Mulan, Chapek said the company remains "optimistic."
"At Disney, we're a bunch of optimists, and I think that's a very good release date for this particular title," he added, saying Disney must "balance people's anxieties about going out in public with the pent-up demand."
The CEO added, "Whether you're talking about movie theaters or whether you're talking about theme parks, and as long as we can do so in a relatively safe, responsible way, I think that's going to be important for the exhibitors to consider all factors when they make their decisions to open up."
Starring Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Gong Li, Yoson An, Jason Scott Lee and Jet Li, Mulan opens July 24.