By Erich Schwartzel 

LOS ANGELES -- Walt Disney Co. said Friday it was again postponing the release of its "Mulan" reboot, the second such delay in a week that confirmed that Hollywood's hopes to be back in the theatrical business by next month won't come to fruition.

"Mulan," which had been scheduled for release on July 24, will now premiere in theaters on Aug. 21. That is about one week after the newly scheduled Aug. 12 debut of "Tenet," a science-fiction thriller that has already been postponed twice from a July release.

The announcements signaled that the schedule shifts prompted by the coronavirus have thrown distribution plans into disarray for the foreseeable future. Several big-budget offerings have been pushed to 2021, creating an overstuffed calendar of major studio releases.

The problem faced by Disney and AT&T Inc.'s Warner Bros., which is releasing "Tenet," is more pressing. Both of the studios' movies have become weather vanes for the exhibition industry at large since they are scheduled first, and each new delay indicates that theater owners and studios don't expect consumers to be comfortable sitting in a theater as soon as they once did.

Most theaters have been closed since March. Some have started to reopen, but the three major circuits -- AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark Holdings Inc. -- had all announced plans to reopen in July, in time for "Mulan" and "Tenet." It is unlikely they will have cause to open so soon now that new studio movies won't be coming until August.

Warner Bros. had already begun putting up posters at bus stations in Los Angeles for "Tenet," which was originally scheduled for release on July 17 and then July 31. Some of the posters were printed with the old July 31 release date.

"Tenet" is directed by Christopher Nolan, the director of "The Dark Knight" and one of the leading defenders of the theatrical moviegoing experience in Hollywood.

Disney executives in recent days were torn on whether to postpone "Mulan, " according to people familiar with the matter. The rise in coronavirus cases in some states, as well as news that New York officials wouldn't allow theaters to reopen on schedule, made a July release seem too optimistic.

"Mulan" was originally scheduled to launch in March, and its red-carpet premiere in Hollywood was among the last public events held by Disney before the pandemic closed theaters and its theme parks. The reopening of one of those parks, Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., has been postponed from July to an unspecified date.

Write to Erich Schwartzel at erich.schwartzel@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 26, 2020 21:02 ET (01:02 GMT)

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