Disney delays Mulan indefinitely, pushes back Star Wars and Avatar releases
As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to affect movie release dates, Disney announced Thursday that it's reshuffling much of its schedule, delaying Mulan indefinitely and pushing back planned Avatar and Star Wars films.
Niki Caro's Mulan remake was scheduled to hit theaters on Aug. 21, after already being pushed back twice from its original March release date. Now, it's unset, and Disney has yet to announce a new release.
“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,” a Walt Disney Studios spokesperson said in a statement.
The release date changes also mean that the studio's planned Avatar and Star Wars sequels have been delayed. The first of James Cameron's four new Avatar follow-ups was originally set for release in December 2021 and has since been pushed back a year, meaning that the new four new films will hit theaters in December 2022, 2024, 2026, and 2028.
The three untitled Star Wars movies have also been pushed back one year and are now scheduled for December 2023, 2025, and 2027.
On social media, Cameron shared a letter to Avatar fans, revealing that not only did the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic delay live-action filming in New Zealand, but it also halted soundstage work in Los Angeles.
"There is no one more disappointed about this delay than me," Cameron wrote. "But I am buoyed by the incredible performance of our cast and the extraordinary work that Weta Digital is doing bringing the world of Pandora and the characters of the film to life."
Other Disney changes include Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, which was previously scheduled for Oct. 16, 2020, and is now unset. Ridley Scott's historical drama The Last Duel, starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jodie Comer, and Adam Driver, has also been pushed back from Christmas 2020 to Oct. 15, 2021.
The Personal History of David Copperfield, starring Dev Patel, was also pushed two weeks and will now be released Aug. 28, 2020, while Kenneth Branagh's Hercule Poirot film Death on the Nile has shifted two weeks to Oct. 23, 2020. Finally, the horror film Antlers is now dated for Feb. 19, 2021, after already shifting from its original April date.
Disney's release date shakeup comes after Warner Bros. announced that it's also delaying one of its planned August releases, Christopher Nolan's thriller Tenet. After pushing the release of Tenet multiple times, WB announced Monday that it's postponing the film indefinitely, with no new release date announced.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep movie theaters closed, Disney has shifted a few of its planned theatrical releases to its streaming service, Disney+, including Artemis Fowl and the filmed Hamilton movie (which was originally supposed to hit theaters in 2021). But for now, the studio seems committed to releasing some of its big-budget films like Mulan in theaters, even if they have yet to set a date.
Notably absent from Disney's release date announcement was the much-delayed superhero film The New Mutants, which has already been pushed back multiple times since its original 2018 date. (It was finally supposed to hit theaters in April 2020 but was rescheduled for August once the pandemic broke.) As of right now, The New Mutants is still set for Aug. 28, 2020, making it Disney's next planned theatrical release.