News this week that Disney is bypassing cinemas by premiering Mulan directly onto Disney+ in major territories has provoked a furious backlash from international exhibitors who feel the House of Mouse is declining to support them in their hour of need.
Emotions are high – as evidenced in our piece speaking to UK operators yesterday when one called it a “f*ck you to exhibitors” – and they were summed up somewhat aptly by a video that emerged today of a cinema owner in France destroying a piece of Mulan promotional artwork in reaction to the news. You can watch the vid posted by French Twitter account @destinationcine below.
After seeing the video and the chord it had struck among the cinema community on Twitter, I tracked down its subject, who turned out to be Gerard Lemoine, owner of indie venue Cinepal in Palaiseau, a suburb south of Paris.
“My video exceeds my expectations a little,” Lemoine told me. It has had more than 150K views on Twitter and counting, and received countless replies.
The cinema owner explained that he decided to make the vid to express his frustration after hearing about Disney’s decision. He said that he has been promoting Mulan “for months” and that he and his fellow operators had hoped the film would be a key title to boost their re-opening efforts.
Cinemas re-opened in France in June, and Lemoine admitted it has been an uphill battle since then to attract audiences, even in the famously cinema-hungry nation.
“It’s really a huge effort to stay open right now for most of us, but we were assuming there would be some ambitious movie releases in the coming weeks,” he said. “By losing Mulan, we lost the possibility of offering our audiences a long-awaited film that would have helped us after these past hard weeks. It is also a bad message to send to the public [who had been expecting a theatrical release].”
Lemoine is now staking his hopes in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which is scheduled to open in France on the earliest possible date of August 26. “We thank Warner a lot for releasing Tenet in late August. But it’s not enough. Studios need to understand that if they cancel these films or put them on platforms, I won’t be able to last very long. I have devoted my life to showing movies and I don’t want to die!”
Could the Disney move harm the studio’s relationship with exhibitors in France? Lemoine says the decision is “very hard and devastating” but he is still hoping they can count on them for future releases, such as Matthew Vaughn’s The King’s Man, which is dated for September 16 in France.