Disney delays film releases due to ongoing coronavirus concerns

Published on: 24th July 2020

The new Avatar and Star Wars films have been delayed a year, and Disney has also removed Mulan from schedules completely.

Disney Mulan

Walt Disney has postponed the release of three major upcoming titles, as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the US. This news will come as a blow to cinema operators, who are already struggling due to the pandemic.

The new Avatar and Star Wars films have been delayed a year, while Mulan has been removed from schedules completely. Mulan was originally delayed because of cinema closures and had been scheduled for release at the end of August. The Mulan delay follows Warner Bros’ decision to postpone the August release of Christopher Nolan’s thriller Tenet.

A rise in virus cases in the US and the impact globally on film production has forced this change in schedule. A Disney spokesperson added: “It’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis. Today that means pausing our release plans for Mulan as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world.”

It had been hoped that Mulan’s release might have triggered a late-summer rebound in cinema-going, however The Avatar sequel is now currently set to debut in cinemas in December 2022, and the next Star Wars movie in December 2023.

While cinemas in England were allowed to reopen from 4th July, as long as social distancing guidelines were followed, the picture across North America is much more uncertain. On Thursday, the AMC and Cineworld cinema chains, who had planned to reopen its US cinemas from the end of July, has now pushed back the reopening date for their US outlets until at least mid-August. Meanwhile New York City and Los Angeles, the two largest markets in the US, have no concrete plans for reopening cinemas yet.

In China, the world’s second largest movie market, cinemas started to reopen this week after being closed for six months due to social distancing measures. One film expert said the delay in Mulan was a “blessing in disguise” for Disney, given the rising tensions between the US and China.

Other delayed Disney films include Ridley Scott’s historical thriller The Last Duel, which has been moved from December 2020 to October 2021. Disney is not the only studio to continue to revise its schedules; ViacomCBS Inc’s Paramount Pictures has also now delayed the release of Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to Top Gun, from December this year to July 2021.


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