Disney delays Mulan due to coronavirus

Disney’s Mulan.

Disney is postponing the highly anticipated live-action remake of Mulan in the wake of growing concerns about the novel coronavirus.

Disney not only delayed Mulan, which would have been released March 27, but also two other upcoming films: the teen X-Men movie New Mutants (previously scheduled for April 3), and the horror film Antlers, which Disney acquired when it acquired Fox Searchlight (previously scheduled for April 17). New release dates for the films have not yet been announced.

“As you know, this has been a rapidly evolving situation,” a Disney spokesperson stated in a March 12 press email. “We are postponing the releases of Mulan, New Mutants, and Antlers out of an abundance of caution.”

Press screenings of Mulan have been delayed until further notice, and some premieres for the film were also unscheduled in Europe and China, where theaters have already been closed for over a month.

Disney has slowly begun to shut down some of its theme park attractions as well. The company had already shut down two theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong earlier his year, as Asia was hit hardest by the virus. As it spread, Disney closed more parks in Japan. On March 12, despite an earlier statement from California governor Gavin Newsom exempting Disney from a general ban on crowd gatherings throughout the state, the company announced that it would close its Anaheim, California-based theme park Disneyland indefinitely as well. The shutdown marks just the third time in its history the Anaheim theme park has gone dark.

A few hours after the first March 12 announcement, the company released an update that Walt Disney World and other Disney-owned theme parks in Orlando would be closing as well. Disneyland Paris, where three staff members tested positive for coronavirus, will also be closing.

The back-and-forth over the theme parks illustrates just how rapidly and uncertainly the situation surrounding Disney’s properties has unfolded. As of Thursday morning, premieres for Mulan were scheduled to move ahead with merely a “downscaling” of plans. With a $200 million production budget, Mulan has been one of the buzzier recent Disney films.

Meanwhile, New Mutants fans just can’t catch a break: The film had already spent years weathering delays due to development and acquisition setbacks prior to its now-postponed April 3 release date — including five release delays. Now, make that an even six.

Disney’s decision to cancel the films could have repercussions for the wider entertainment industry. The question of whether or not to force movie theaters to close due to Covid-19 is a polarizing one for Americans — but with one less film juggernaut to draw them to the box office, the choice might have just gotten a little easier.

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