By Daniel Arkin and Diana Dasrath
Disney will indefinitely postpone the premiere of "Mulan" and push back the release of new installments in the "Avatar" and "Star Wars" film franchises, the studio announced Thursday, dealing another blow to pandemic-shuttered theaters.
The company, one of the pillars of the global entertainment business, said the decisions were made in response to theater closures and production shutdowns amid the coronavirus crisis.
"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.
"Mulan," a live-action remake of the beloved 1998 animated film, was originally scheduled to debut on March 27 before it was moved to July 24 and then pushed to Aug. 21.
The move comes three days after Warner Bros. pulled the mind-bending espionage thriller "Tenet" from its August release calendar. The film, directed by Christopher Nolan, had been slated for Aug. 12 after being delayed twice.
The film exhibition business has struggled in recent months as public officials ordered the closure of theaters and major Hollywood studios signaled they would release more titles on at-home streaming platforms.
"Mulan" and "Tenet" were widely seen as bellwethers for Hollywood's attempts to begin a financial rebound. The leading studios rely on robust box-office grosses to turn a profit on big-budget projects. "Mulan" and "Tenet" each cost roughly $200 million to produce, according to widely reported estimates.