Will Disney Release Any Other Movies This Year?
At the time, Disney was finishing a record-shattering 2019 box office campaign. The company produced seven different billion-dollar blockbusters.
Hollywood understood that Disney’s 2020 wouldn’t be as good, but nobody could have expected this calamity.
In my articles, I discussed 18 2020 film titles. To date, only three of them have come out in theaters.
Coronavirus has forced the delays of many other potential Disney movies.
How many more of them should we expect to enter theaters in 2020? Well…
What about Mulan?
The other day, MickeyBlog confirmed that Mulan has once again changed its release date.
After two previous delays, Disney has removed Mulan from the schedule until studio executives have a better idea about what to expect in 2020.
Movie theater chains are in dire financial straits. The pandemic has prevented them from reopening, at least in large numbers.
Some theaters have returned to operation, but attendance has remained sparse.
With Mulan, Disney must find a release date where theaters aren’t merely open but also thriving enough to safely exhibit a blockbuster.
Currently, most open locations have skeleton crews since the businesses cannot afford to pay a full staff.
You’ll notice that Disney has taken the opposite approach with its theme parks.
Disney has reopened the locations by bringing back a disproportionately large number of cast members while limiting guest capacity.
The company can do this since it has the financial structure to survive the short-term losses.
Problems Both Foreign and Domestic
Importantly, Disney also cares about the safety of its customers. This factor comes into play with its potential theatrical releases, too.
Studio executives know that movie theaters strike many customers as dangerous right now.
Disney doesn’t want to endanger anyone, but the film division had expected Mulan to earn at least $1 billion.
The company doesn’t want to cede that revenue at a time when it’s already experienced a shortfall.
So, the studio is observing the Chinese box office. Many movie theaters reopened over the past few days.
On the first day, the combined box office was only about $500,000.
As a reminder, Avengers: Endgame alone earned $157 million more on its first day, just in North America.
For its first weekend, China’s total box office may or may not reach $10 million in total.
Disney had projected that Mulan would open to at least $60 million in North America and $200 million worldwide.
Obviously, we have a long way to go to reach those totals.
The dilemma here is how long Disney can/should sit on Mulan.
At this point, the writing is on the wall, as many potential blockbusters have already moved back into 2021.
Mulan hasn’t received a new release date yet. The soonest I believe that Disney would seriously consider its debut is November.
Realistically, I think that the only way we get Mulan this year is in December…or on Disney+.
What about The New Mutants?
Here’s the weird one. The New Mutants has become one of the most famous doomed projects in recent memory.
Fox executives didn’t want to release it in theaters, and so it was pulled from the schedule. Then, it returned only for Coronavirus to cause another delay.
Currently, The New Mutants possesses a scheduled release date of August 28th.
Viewers of the digital Comic-Con@Home event received quite the surprise on Thursday when studio executives doubled down on this date.
Earlier in the week, AMC Theatres indicated that it wouldn’t reopen until “mid to late August.”
Meanwhile, two of the other three top theater chains, Regal and Cinemark, refused to name a new reopening date.
In other words, Disney plans to stick with a release date when most of the country’s theaters will either be closed or only recently reopened.
The decision falls somewhere between weird and laughable.
My suspicion is that studio executives didn’t want to embarrass the film more by announcing another delay during Comic-Con.
Still, I understand Disney’s perspective here. The studio needs test subjects, films it can release to check whether anyone’s willing to return to theaters.
The expectations were already low for The New Mutants. It’s no big deal if Disney releases the film, it bombs, and then it comes out on Hulu/Disney+.
After all, Pixar has already suffered worse with Onward, a movie that did have box office potential.
Clearly, movie executives would like to release The New Mutants to find out how customers feel about movie theaters right now.
Also, the move makes sense for a troubled project, as a comic book movie could provide the distraction that some customers desperately need.
So, I expect The New Mutants to be Disney’s next release, even though it’s really a Fox project.
The Rest of the 2020 Schedule
The conversations grow even more challenging now.
Disney has already announced that The One and Only Ivan will debut on Disney+ on August 14th. And Artemis Fowl is already available that way.
These two titles, along with Onward, represent one-sixth of Disney’s projected 2020 releases.
The following films have already moved to 2021:
- Bob’s Burgers
- The Eternals
- Jungle Cruise
- Raya and the Last Dragon
Not counting The New Mutants, Disney currently lists only five other films scheduled for release in 2020. Those are:
- Black Widow
- Death on the Nile
- Free Guy
- The King’s Man
- West Side Story
The conversation theoretically begins with The King’s Man, the prequel to the popular film franchise.
Since it was a Fox production, Disney isn’t especially committed. This one could feasibly remain in 2020.
In terms of box office expectations, it’s beyond The New Mutants but well short of Mulan. So, it also works as a potential trial run.
Free Guy already moved back from the summer until mid-December. Its fate remains uncertain, as it’s also a Fox movie. However, Disney seems to like it.
I suspect that if Free Guy gets moved, it won’t happen until later this year when executives have a better idea about the state of Coronavirus.
I’d say that the same is true of Death on the Nile, a late October release.
As for Soul, recent rumors suggest that the film might go straight to Disney+.
I’m incredibly skeptical about this rumor. However, a Rotten Tomatoes film critic recently tweeted the following:
I was told, via a solid source, that Disney is in the closing stages of totally scrapping the theatrical release for Pixar's SOUL and sending it straight to Disney+ this coming November. The film would still be eligible to contend for Oscars, as per new AMPAS rules.
— Jordan Ruimy (@mrRuimy) July 23, 2020
If true, this decision would take another Disney title off the calendar.
As for West Side Story, it’s Oscar bait and a former Fox project to boot.
Since films can debut later and still be eligible for 2020, I think it might move.
What about Black Widow?
Here’s the conversation that matters the most from a box office perspective.
Mulan and Soul would both make a lot of money, but Black Widow is the breadwinner.
Disney needs this one in theaters for financial reasons. Also, Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe depends on proper ordering.
In a case of bad luck, this phase will have more interconnected stories than ever, which means that delaying Black Widow causes ripple effects.
Virtually all movies with strong box office potential have pulled out of 2020 due to the pandemic.
I believe that Disney wants to give Black Widow every chance possible to come out in November.
Unfortunately, America’s lackluster response to the pandemic has jeopardized this possibility.
In a way, Disney’s pot-committed here, as another delay to Black Widow would force changes or new release dates for Disney+ series.
As such, I think Disney will do everything it can to keep Black Widow in 2020. Realistically, the film needs another delay, though.
Otherwise, Black Widow will earn only a fraction of its box office potential.
Summarizing, some of the Fox projects will come out this year. As for Soul, Mulan, and Black Widow, well, you may not want to get your hopes up.