Things are changing fast for Disney and its usually reliable conveyor belt of blockbusters. After being one of the most proactive studios in hunkering down during the coronavirus pandemic—delaying Mulan and other releases early in March and suspending all film production—the Mouse House is looking at a more hopeful fall… and summer. Indeed, Mulan is back on the release calendar in 2020 and sooner than you might expect.
With a new release date of July 24, Mulan is now scheduled to essentially be one of the first summer releases, even as the summer is beginning to wind down into its dog days. The move displaces another Disney movie that previously held that weekend, the Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt two-hander, Jungle Cruise, but that film is moving a full 12 months to July 30, 2021. This is just the tip of Disney’s reshuffled deck.
As Mulan becomes Disney’s next major film with a theatrical release scheduled, Free Guy, a movie developed under 20th Century Studios (previously 20th Century Fox), has moved from a July 3 debut to Dec. 11, 2020. Similarly, Searchlight Pictures’ new Wes Anderson film, The French Dispatch, has been moved from its July 24 release date to Oct. 16.
While several other major Disney/the studio formerly known as Fox films have releases that are remaining intact, such as Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story on Dec. 18 and Ridley Scott’s historical epic starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Adam Driver, The Last Duel, on Dec. 25, this is affecting other plans well into 2022.
We’ve unpacked here how moving Black Widow from May to November has displaced Marvel Studios films until summer 2022, beginning with Eternals going to February 2021 and ending with Thor: Love and Thunder moving to February 2022. Meanwhile Lucasfilm’s slated Indiana Jones 5 has similarly been pushed back a year from July 9, 2021 to July 29, 2022. Further there is still a slate of undated Fox movies that were intended to open in spring 2020, including most notably to comic book fans, The New Mutants. We’ve recently unpacked the likelihood of that film going to streaming here.
The changes have drastically altered the movie calendar, yet it is a hopeful sign that Disney thinks it will be safe to release a major blockbuster by the end of July. Mulan is of course its ambitious and radical reimagining of the 1998 animated classic, moving the story away from musical numbers and closer to Chinese legend. With a reportedly enormous budget, the movie was always destined for a theatrical release despite inaccurate rumors to the contrary about Disney+.
However, many are preparing to write off summer 2020 entirely. S&P just downgraded the credit rating of AMC Theatres, the largest theater chain in North America, to CCC-, stating that they do not believe theatrical exhibition will come back by the end of June and that a default to creditors is imminent.
But like Warner Bros., who moved Wonder Woman 1984 from June to August while keeping Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on its mid-July release date, Disney appears optimistic for now that the pandemic’s peak is closer than some of the direr projections. We’ll keep you posted as we know more.