A French movie theater owner went viral this week after a video of him destroying a Mulan pop-up lobby display surfaced on Twitter. Earlier this week, Disney announced that its live-action remake of Mulan was going straight to Disney+ with a rent upcharge in September, and not just in the U.S., where movie theaters are still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Disney said the movie will only be released in theaters where Disney+ is not available.
The video shows the theater owner bashing the cardboard Mulan display with a bat, flattening it to the ground. In the end, he proudly stood on the display's ruins, with a poster for Warner Bros.' Tenet on the wall behind him. "The reaction of an operator following the Disney decision," the French Twitter account Destination Cine captioned the clip.
The man in the video is Gerard Lemoine, who owns the independent theater Cinepal in Palaiseau, south of Paris. He told Deadline he was surprised by the video's response. He has grown frustrated by Hollywood since even the movie-loving French are not going to theaters without new products to see. Theaters re-opened in France in June.
"It’s really a huge effort to stay open right now for most of us, but we were assuming there would be some ambitious movie releases in the coming weeks," Lemoine explained. "By losing Mulan, we lost the possibility of offering our audiences a long-awaited film that would have helped us after these past hard weeks. It is also a bad message to send to the public [who had been expecting a theatrical release]."
Lemoine hopes that Tenet, directed by Christopher Nolan, can help bring in audiences. It is scheduled to open in France on Aug. 26, but does not have a U.S. release date at all right now. "We thank Warner a lot for releasing Tenet in late August. But it’s not enough," Lemoine said. "Studios need to understand that if they cancel these films or put them on platforms, I won’t be able to last very long. I have devoted my life to showing movies and I don’t want to die!"
Disney will release Mulan on Sept. 4, but only on Disney+. Unlike Hamilton or Artemis Fowl though, Disney+ subscribers will have to fork over $29.99 to the Mouse House. Once the viewer buys it, the film will be available for as long as you have Disney+. The film will still be released theatrically in markets without Disney+, a move that has angered exhibitors in Europe and the U.K., where some theaters have already opened. As one U.K. operator told Deadline, "It's a f— you to exhibitors."