BY LISA RICHWINE
Walt Disney Co. postponed the debut of live-action movie “Mulan” until Aug. 21, the company said in a statement on Friday, a blow to theater operators who want blockbuster movies to draw audiences from their homes in the middle of a pandemic.
“Mulan” was scheduled to debut in March but was postponed until July 24 when the coronavirus outbreak forced theaters around the world to close.
“While the pandemic has changed our release plans for ‘Mulan’ and we will continue to be flexible as conditions require, it has not changed our belief in the power of this film and its message of hope and perseverance,” Alan Horn and Alan Bergman, co-chairmen of Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.
“Mulan” is a $200-million live-action remake of Disney’s animated classic that stars Yifei Liu in the title role.
Movie theater owners had been hoping to offer “Mulan” and director Christopher Nolan’s thriller “Tenet” in July to help lure audiences back to cinemas. Both films are now pushed into August, with “Tenet,” from AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros., scheduled for Aug. 12.
The theater business has been devastated by the coronavirus shutdowns that began in mid-March, laying off tens of thousands of employees and borrowing funds to stay afloat.
Roughly 780 indoor theaters currently are open in the United States, according to research firm Comscore.
The industry is hoping for mass openings in July, when nationwide chains AMC Entertainment, Cinemark and Cineworld’s Regal Cinemas are scheduled to be back in business. All plan safeguards including limited attendance, extra cleaning and face masks for guests and workers.
But officials in Los Angeles and New York, the two biggest movie-going markets in the United States, have not yet set a date for when theaters can reopen.