Well, we finally know what it takes to beat Disney at the box office: The complete shut-down of the movie industry, and the shuttering of every conceivable venue where its films might possibly be shown. THR reports that the entertainment omni-mind has finally relented to the forces of COVID-19, dropping Niki Caro’s Mulan remake from its August 21 spot on the ever-more-hypothetical summer release schedule, and declining to re-schedule it on the grounds that everyone involved knows fuck-all about when it might actually be safe to do so. In this, Mulan follows Christopher Nolan’s Tenet—as it has all summer, with the two movies leap-frogging past each other on multiple occasions in an effort not to turn into the first big coronavirus flop of 2020—in simply giving up on the industry’s half-hearted attempts at a mid-year revival.
As has generally been the case with these shifts in the fanciful patchwork of wishes and Bill And Ted movies we’ve been calling a release schedule, the Mulan move triggered a whole bunch of other changes in Disney’s plans—including the moving of all its hypothetical Star Wars movies and the Avatar sequel by a full year, with Avatar 2 now set to arrive in December of 2022. Disney does continue to have the gall to act like some of its planned 2020 films are still going to arrive, though; The Personal History Of David Copperfield is now set for August 28, the Agatha Christie adaptation Death On The Nile jumped back a fortnight to October 23, and The Empty Man will now “run” on December 4. (We’re having to use a lot of scare quotes these days when talking about “when” “movies” are “going” to be in “theaters.”) Oh, and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch—which is running through Fox Searchlight—is now off the schedule entirely, because of course it is.
Disney has yet to issue an ironclad, Nolan-style “We’re releasing Mulan in theaters even if it’s only playing for the last six people on Earth” declaration. Instead, a company spokesperson hinted at some form of moderate flexibility about where this is all going, noting that, “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.”