Disney's live-action Mulan has been moved out of July and will now open in August because of a surge in COVID-19 cases. Previously set to open on March 27, Mulan pushed Disney's Dwayne Johnson starring Jungle Cruise into 2021 when the remake of Disney's 1998 animated film shifted to July 24 in mid-March amid coronavirus concerns. That delay, announced just days before the world's biggest theater chains began to shutter indefinitely, was followed by another big-budget Disney tentpole — Marvel Studios' Black Widow — moving off its early summer slot when it vacated its May 1 date for November 6. Mulan will now release into theaters August 21.
"Making this films has been one of the most satisfying and exhilarating experiences of my entire career, and I've been so fortunate to be on this journey with some of the best cast and crew in the business," director Niki Caro said in a statement published to Instagram following the film's first shove from March to July. "We are so excited to share this film with the world, but given the current ever-shifting circumstances we all are experiencing, unfortunately, we have to postpone the worldwide release of Mulan for now."
"Our hearts are with everyone the world over who is affected by this virus, and we hope that Mulan's fighting spirit will continues to inspire those who are working so hard to keep us all safe," Caro added of China's legendary warrior now played by Yifei Liu.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek in recent weeks confirmed tentpole titles with blockbuster potential like Mulan and Black Widow would not skip theaters for premium video on demand like Disney-Pixar's animated Onward — shuttled to digital rental services just two weeks after its theatrical debut due to theater closures — or go straight-to-streaming like Artemis Fowl, which debuted on the Disney+ streaming service after abandoning its planned theatrical run.
"We believe in the theatrical experience, particularly to launch big blockbuster franchise films," Chapek said on CNBC's Squawk Alley. "It fuels the entire Disney company, from consumer products to theme parks all the way to Disney+. And so we really think that's the smart way to launch our big, tentpole films."
Adding the company would "remain flexible" due to the lack of "hard and fast rules" with COVID-19, Chapek reaffirmed Disney does "believe in that theatrical window" and that its bigger films would simply shift to later dates on the release calendar.
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.
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