Coronavirus: Disney delays blockbuster films due to pandemic

Disney shared a first look at its new live-action film Mulan. Image copyright Walt Disney Studios
Image caption The next Mulan is a live action remake of the animated hit movie

Walt Disney has delayed and postponed the release of three major films, dealing a fresh blow to cinema operators struggling amid the pandemic.

The new Avatar and Star Wars films have been delayed a year, while Mulan has been removed from schedules completely.

Mulan, already delayed because of cinema closures, had been scheduled for release at the end of August.

A rise in virus cases in the US and the impact globally on film production forced the change.

It had been hoped that Mulan might spark a late-summer rebound in cinema-going. The Avatar sequel is now set to debut in theatres in December 2022, and the next Star Wars movie in December 2023.

“It’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis,” a Disney spokesman said. “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.”

The Mulan delay follows Warner Bros’ decision to postpone the August release of Christopher Nolan thriller Tenet. Cinema owners were pinning hopes on the films to salvage part of the lucrative summer season.

On Thursday, the AMC and Cineworld cinema chains pushed back the reopening date for their US outlets until at least mid-August, from the end of July.

Avatar 2 would have been one of next year’s biggest films. It is the follow-up to James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster, which is the second highest-grossing film of all time.

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