Disney has reconfigured its theatrical release schedule again as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage throughout the country, with the company yanking or delaying some films while leaving others in place — at least for now.
The first, not totally unexpected move was pulling Mulan off its August 21 release date. Originally set to arrive this past spring and then this month, the live-action remake of the animated classic was moved to August after the first major wave of the pandemic. Now, according to Deadline, it’s been removed from next month’s calendar and does not currently have a release date.
Mulan’s disappearance from its August arrival makes sense in the wake of Warner Bros. Pictures pulling Tenet from its premiere date a week earlier — although both will come as a blow to AMC Theaters, which just shifted its reopening plans from later this month to mid-August. If we were betting folks, we’d still lay $10 on a Disney Plus premiere for Mulan, especially since it has not been rescheduled yet.
A Disney spokesperson said, “Over the last few months, it’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and 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.”
Even though Mulan is in limbo for now, Disney’s 20th Century Studios subsidiary is still keeping a number of films on track for theatrical release — although we wouldn’t be surprised if some of those shift as well in the coming months. The last X-Men movie produced before the Disney/Fox merger — Josh Boone’s New Mutants — is tentatively set to finally show up on August 28 (two and a half years after its original release date), although we can’t see that sticking for very long.
Graphic novel adaptation The Empty Man has moved from August 7 to December 4, while Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile has been bumped for the time being from October 9 to October 23. The Last Duel from Ridley Scott will now open October 15, 2021, after being initially scheduled for a limited release this Christmas and a wider opening in January.
Likewise, 20th Century’s arthouse arm, Searchlight Pictures, still has The Personal History of David Copperfield arriving in limited theatrical release next month, although it’s jumped from August 14 to August 28, but Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch is now undated after initially being set for October 16. Searchlight’s Antlers, produced by Guillermo del Toro, will now open on February 19, 2021.
Marvel’s Black Widow is standing pat for now on its November 6 launchpad, while Kingsman prequel The King’s Man is also sticking to its September 18 debut. However, with so much uncertainty regarding not just movie theater openings but production timelines due to the COVID-19 crisis, Disney has also pushed upcoming entries for two of its biggest franchises, Avatar and Star Wars, back by a full year.
Avatar 2 will now arrive on December 16, 2022 instead of December 17, 2021, with Avatar 3 (December 22, 2023 to December 20, 2024), Avatar 4 (December 19, 2025 to December 18, 2026) and Avatar 5 (December 27, 2027 to December 22, 2028) all following suit.
As for Star Wars, the next trilogy will now launch on December 22, 2023 instead of December 16, 2022, with the subsequent films moving from 2024 and 2026 to 2025 and 2027 respectively.
There’s no word yet on whether other Disney projects — including the next phase of Marvel films — will be affected by the new schedule, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see more changes — even among any or all of the movies mentioned above — come along as well, with no clear end to the pandemic in sight.