There’s a legitimate competition to see which major-studio release will be the feature that welcomes patrons back to movie theaters. Two anticipated films are holding steadfast to their July release dates, and at least one of them – Disney’s live-action adaptation of Mulan – just confirmed its intentions to stay there.
At Disney, we're a bunch of optimists. I think that's a good date for this title. You have to balance people's anxieties about going out in public with the pent-up demand.
That’s the balance, isn’t it? Hollywood studios know that it’s still not 100% safe for patrons to gather in large groups, which would be needed in a movie theater. But at the same time, as states across our nation strategically move for limited openings, the demand for movie theaters to open, and new movies to begin screening, is going to grow. The date of July 24 is far off, but this would give movie theaters some time to soft launch, figure out how to operate in the era of social distancing, and be ready for the “masses” when Mulan opens on July 24.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek went on to involve the exhibitors in Disney’s plans to have Mulan ready, stating:
In that particular case, I think that can be managed. I think it will be up to our exhibitors who we partner with. I think that is a very good release date for that particular title.
Especially if one other title blazes a trail the week prior, and helps movie theaters figure out how to operate under the restrictions of social distancing. As of right now, Warner Bros. plans to open Christopher Nolan’s time-twisting Tenet in movie theaters on July 17. That would give it a one-week head start on Mulan, and while it would mean that Nolan would earn the distinction of being the first new movie back in theaters, waiting a week also allows Disney to see how the movie-theater process is working, so they can tweak the process and help more people see Mulan.
Unlike Tenet, which never moved off of its release date, Mulan is dealing with a date shift. It was supposed to open in March, but moved backwards when movie theaters were prompted to close and have remained closed (still). The theaters are waiting for the studios to make a bold move and release features. But the studios also need the multiplexes to BE open, so that the movies can screen in an orderly fashion.