Disney weighs postponing ‘Mulan’

California movie theaters, sets reopening with strict guidelines

FOX Business’ Gerri Willis discusses Warner Brothers’ film ‘TENET’ and says movie production and movie theaters are reopening in California with social distancing guidelines in place.

LOS ANGELES— Walt Disney Co. is considering postponing the July 24 release of “Mulan,” according to a person familiar with the matter, a rescheduling that could call into question hopes across Hollywood and the movie-theater industry to have cinemas up and running next month.

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“Mulan” is currently the first major studio film scheduled for release after theaters are expected to reopen in July.

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That has made it an arbiter of Hollywood’s plans at large. Any postponement on Disney’s part would likely force exhibitors and other studios to re-evaluate current reopening schedules. For months, theaters have been closed to help battle the coronavirus pandemic. Reopening plans also could be complicated by rising numbers of coronavirus cases in certain parts of the U .S.

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Disney executives are expected to make a decision on “Mulan” soon, according to people familiar with the matter. The live-action reboot of the 1998 animated film cost $200 million to produce, and Disney will need to mount a marketing campaign imminently to get consumers reacquainted with the film.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and other major exhibitors are counting on “Mulan” and “Tenet,” a science-fiction thriller scheduled for release on July 31, to get moviegoers back into seats. AMC said last week it expected to have most of its theaters operating by July 24, in time for “Mulan.”

While movie theaters in the U.S. have been slowly reopening around the country for weeks, each state has been implementing its own restrictions.

Also, exhibitors have lacked the high-profile titles that generally drive ticket sales and make summer the industry’s busiest time of the year.

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Recent developments have complicated plans to resume releasing movies in July. New York officials said Wednesday they would not open movie theaters yet, potentially cutting off a lucrative market for ticket sales.

Disney’s plans for “Mulan” may hinge on international markets reopening, as well. The company’s ambitions with the film have been especially global, with an eye on making a film that would particularly do well in Chinese theaters, a market which is still essentially shut.

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