Disney has delayed Mulan for the next time in 2010, moving the film from July 24th to August 21st. The move follows Warner Bros.’ decision to delay Christopher Nolan’s Tenet for a second time from July 31st to August 12th.
Disney doesn’t desire to be the first studio to release a significant film at the center of a pandemic once the company is unsure of about how many individuals will appear. The delay is added confirmation that Disney and Warner Bros. are engaged in a game of release chicken. Neither studio wants to go first, trying out their potential billion-dollar movies in an industry where the films could lose cash if audiences don’t generate or restrictions mean that audiences can’t watch said movies.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek previously cited Tenet (referring to it as a “competitor’s film”) as the movie Disney executives were planning to watch; the insinuation was when Tenet performed well, Mulan could run the following week, but if it flopped upon opening weekend, Disney could move Mulan. ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish added in his company’s earnings call he was hopeful by enough time The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run was set to open in early August, movie theaters would be in full swing. ViacomCBS has since moved The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run to a digital only release in 2021.
While studios are trying to find out when release a their 2020 blockbusters, theaters are also watching closely. Companies like AMC Theatres and Regal are relying on movies like Tenet and Mulan to bring people back once again to theaters. Plans to open more widely seemed to be centered on Tenet’s then July 31st release date. Now, Warner Bros. is re-releasing Inception in that spot to celebrate the film’s 10-year-anniversary. If studios don’t release new films, the theaters don’t have anything to create audiences in.
As concerns within the novel coronavirus continue to develop as states begin to reopen, whether summer blockbusters will in truth start to hit theaters continues to be up in the air. For now, it seems like studios are playing it safe, continuing to activate in incremental delays before the time is right.