Disney took Mulan off its release schedule and pushed back the release dates of new films in the Avatar and Star Wars franchises due to the coronavirus pandemic. The move comes as the number of cases continues to skyrocket in the U.S., which has forced theater owners to keep their theaters closed. The global pandemic has also hurt film production, which forced Disney to delay its blockbusters.
Mulan was initially scheduled for release in March and even had its world premiere at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood on March 9. Disney scheduled release dates in July and August before leaving it un-dated Thursday. "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," Disney said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
The new film was one of two blockbusters theater owners had hoped would draw audiences back to theaters, alongside Christopher Nolan's epic Tenet. Warner Bros. frequently delayed that film, ultimately deciding earlier this week that it would not be released on Aug. 12 as planned. Instead, Warner Bros. is looking to stagger Tenet's international release, beginning in markets were theaters are opening.
Disney also left Searchlight Pictures' The French Dispatch undated. The highly anticipated comedy was directed by Wes Anderson and was scheduled to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival before a wide release on July 24. The Personal History of David Copperfield is moving to Aug. 28, while Death on the Nile is opening on Oct. 23. The Empty Man is opening on Dec. 4.
James Cameron's Avatar sequels have all been pushed back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic causing delays in production. Avatar 2 is scheduled for Dec. 16, 2022 now, while Avatar 3 opens on Dec. 20, 2024. Avatar 4 opens on Dec. 18, 2026, and Avatar 5 opens on Dec.22, 2028.
"There is no one more disappointed about this delay than me," Cameron said in a statement he shared on social media Thursday. "What most of you likely don't know is that the pandemic is still preventing us from being allowed to recommence most of our virtual production work on stage in Los Angeles. That work is just as critical to the films as the live-action work."
Lucasfilm also received more time to work on the new Star Wars movies, which have all remained a mystery. The first film opens on Dec 22, 2023, now, with a second opening on Dec. 19, 2025. The third untitled movie opens on Dec. 17, 2027. Searchlight's Antlers was set to open in October but is now unset as well. Ridley Scott's The Last Duel was scheduled to open on Christmas Day but is now opening on Oct. 15, 2021. Lastly, an untitled live-action Disney movie was scheduled for Dec. 17, 2021.