Amid concerns about the effects of a COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic on the global box office, the Walt Disney Company has delayed the release of a number of films, including the hugely-anticipated live-action remake of Mulan. Shortly after the announcement came, Niki Caro, who directed Mulan, issued a statement offering fans sympathy but promising an exhilarating experience once the movie finally gets released and wishing well for everyone impacted by the outbreak. The film, based on a traditional Chinese story but previously adapted as an animated movie by Disney in 1998, centers on a young woman who masquerades as a man in order to take her father's place in mandatory military service.
The animated version, which cost a little under $100 million to make, earned $300 million at the box office. The new film was projected to open at over $100 million domestically prior to coronavirus concerns.
"Making this film 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 — people who truly embody the attributes of Loyal, Brave, and True," Caro said in a statement. "We are so excited to share this film with the world, but given the current ever-shifting circumstances were are all 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 continue to inspire those who are working so hard to keep us all safe. Thank you for all of your enthusiasm and support, and I can't wait for the day where we will all get to experience this tale of a girl warrior who became a legend together."
Last month, Mulan's Chinese release was delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus, which came to the U.S. fairly late and had been impacting global markets for some time. The film was a U.S./China co-production and while Disney had initially suggested they could move forward with a U.S. release if only the Chinese market was impacted, it seems unlikely that anything in theaters currently will be bringing in big money.
For now, Disney is not moving titles like Black Widow (May 1) and Artemis Fowl (May 29). Other films scheduled in May have already packed their bags, but Disney is likely trying to manage what could be a huge writedown for them if two of their biggest releases of the year have to be indefinitely postponed. Disney will likely evaluate the coronavirus situation in the coming weeks, as safety of moviegoers gathering together remains a concern.
Disney also purported in their statement to believe in "the moviegoing experience," seemingly ruling out any possible Disney+ release for the postponed titles. According to the studio, this is a rapidly evolving situation which is being watched closely.