Disney delayed Mulan for the second time this year, the film is moved from July 24 to August 21. This decision follows the decision of Warner Bros. to delay Christopher Nolan’s decision Principle a second time from July 31 to August 12.
Disney doesn’t want to be the first studio to release a major film in the middle of a pandemic when society is unsure of the number of people who will show up. The delay is added confirming that Disney and Warner Bros are engaged in a chicken release game. Neither studio wants to start, testing their potential billion dollar movies in a market where the movies could lose money if the audience doesn’t show up or if restrictions keep the audience from watching those movies.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek, cited above Principle (calling it a “competitor’s film”) like the film Disney executives planned to watch; the implication was that if Principle Well worked, Mulan could run the next week, but if it failed during the opening weekend, Disney could move Mulan. ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish added in his call for business results that he was hopeful by the time The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the run was due to open in early August, cinemas would be back in full swing. ViacomCBS has since moved The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the run towards a digital version only in 2021.
While studios are trying to figure out when to release their 2020 blockbusters, theaters are also watching closely. Companies like AMC Theaters and Regal rely on films like Principle and Mulan to bring people back to the movies. Wider opening plans appear to be based on PrincipleIs the July 31 release date. Now Warner Bros. re-releases Start here to celebrate the film’s 10th anniversary. If studios don’t release new movies, theaters have nothing to attract audiences.
As concerns about the new coronavirus continue to grow as states begin to reopen, the question of whether summer blockbusters will start hitting theaters is still pending. For now, it appears the studios are playing safe, continuing to incur incremental delays until the time is right.