Disney Removes ‘Mulan’ From Slate, Pushes ‘Avatar’ and ‘Star Wars’ Films Back One Year

“It’s become clear that nothing can be set in stone,” studio says in statement

Mulan 2020 Liu Yifei
Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios

As COVID-19 infections continue to surge in U.S. states, Disney announced on Thursday that it is indefinitely postponing the release of Niki Caro’s remake of “Mulan,” effectively ending hopes of salvaging the summer blockbuster season.

“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,” the studio said in a statement.

In addition, all scheduled “Avatar” sequels and “Star Wars” films have been delayed one year, and other films set to be released by Disney, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight in September and October have also been pushed back, including Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” which Searchlight has now indefinitely postponed.

Other films moved include 20th Century’s “The Empty Man,” which moves from August 7 to December 4; Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel,” which moves from a Christmas Day limited release to October 15, 2021; and Searchlight’s “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” which now gets a limited release on August 28.

James Cameron released a statement to Twitter explaining the delay of the “Avatar” films, saying that though some live-action filming is proceeding in New Zealand, the virtual production work on stages in Los Angeles makes it impossible for the team to make its December 2021 release date.

“That work is just as critical to the films as the live action work,” Cameron wrote. “There is no one more disappointed about this delay than me.”

Cameron’s four “Avatar” sequels, which are now over a decade removed from the original film, are now slated up through 2028, with “Avatar 5” meant to hit theaters on Dec. 22, 2028.

As it stands, the next films on the release slate for Disney and 20th Century are “The New Mutants,” which has long been delayed well before the coronavirus pandemic, and Searchlight’s “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” both set for Aug. 28.

Disney has also given a release date to “Antlers,” which since the pandemic started has been undated. The horror film from Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro will open on Feb. 19, 2021, after originally being slated for release in April. “The Woman in the Window,” a psychological thriller starring Amy Adams and from 20th Century, however, is still undated. “Death on the Nile,” the follow up to “Murder on the Orient Express” from Kenneth Branagh, has also shifted two weeks to Oct. 23, 2020.

Untouched as of yet on the release slate from the previous shuffle of the slate are the MCU movies, with Phase 4 still planning to kick off on Nov. 6, 2020 with “Black Widow.” Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” will also open Nov. 20, 2020 as previously planned.

The shift of “Mulan” off the release slate follows the move of “Tenet” by Warner Bros. on Monday. That film along with “Mulan” were both meant to be blockbusters among the first to return to movie theaters in the late summer that could help spur audiences back to theater chains, all of which mostly remain closed. AMC in particular has pushed back its phased opening until mid-August as it awaits other Hollywood product that can lure audiences back.

Warner Bros. said that “Tenet” would open at some point this year, but the studio also said that it would do so unconventionally, opening the door to the possibility that “Tenet” could open internationally or overseas before it is able to open domestically, as well as the possibility that the movie may not open in every city at once in a wide release.