While Disney insiders remain optimistic, it would not be a shocker if the studio moves Mulan, the first big event movie after exhibition’s COVID-19 shutdown, off its current July 24 date. There are just too many gloomy signs out there now.
Even though the $200 million Niki Caro-directed movie built up a great degree of awareness in its marketing earlier this year with a Super Bowl trailer drop that yielded over 12 million views on social media, recent promotions for the live-action remake of the 1998 Disney musical remain conspicuously absent. Instead, Disney released a trailer for 20th Century Studios’ Matthew Vaughn action pic The King’s Man over the weekend ahead of its September 18 release. Huh?
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More bad news: California, Texas and Florida all set records for the number of new COVID-19 cases in one day, according to CNN. Nationwide there were 34,720 new cases reported Tuesday in the U.S., the third-highest number of new cases reported in one day since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the state saw 7,149 new COVID-19 infections, a jump of 2,000 in the past 24 hours.
“We cannot continue to do what we have done over the past weeks,” said Newsom. He said some people got cabin fever, and “some people just let down their guard.”
“I’m not naive,” said Newsom. “People are mixing. We are spreading this virus. It is our behaviors that are leading to these numbers.”
Also further contributing to doubt about Mulan is the fact that China, a prime market for the movie, still hasn’t reopened its movie theaters. While some sources have pointed to Disney’s solid relations in the Middle Kingdom, and that Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland have reopened — meaning cinemas can’t be far behind — the fact remains that movie theaters are still not open in China, and there’s no obvious sign when they will be.
Another reason why Mulan could move? Sources say that when Warner Bros moved Tenet to July 31 from July 17, they automatically made Mulan the event movie to kick off the summer season. “Disney doesn’t like that,” says an exhibition source. “What studio wants to automatically be put in that position?”
If Mulan stays on July 24, it could enjoy a week of Imax theaters but will need to cede them once Tenet opens. With Warners having tied up the Imax theaters for Tenet for at least three weeks, the next time that Mulan could grab them is at the end of August. Another source tells me that Mulan never intended to have the Imax theaters anyway. The further we push event pics into September, the more the restart of the school season is upon us.
More complications to Disney’s day: The Coalition of Resort Labor Unions, which reps about 17,000 workers at Disney parks and resorts, has scheduled a protest for Saturday morning at Disneyland in Anaheim. The org last week sent Newsom a letter urging him to stick a pin in the Disney park’s restart.
So if Mulan moves, where does it go? Potentially to the end of the year at Christmas. Still, a Mulan move would be another blow to exhibitors who are trying to get back on their feet financially, this after Paramount’s recent decision to take the SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run into homes, and Warners moving Wonder Woman 1984 out of the summer season to the first weekend of October.
We should have a better idea by the end of the week as to what Mulan‘s next 2020 theatrical move is.
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