Both Warner Bros. and Disney were set to reopen the struggling movie theater business in July with a major potential blockbuster each: Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s latest dark and moody spy thriller, for Warner Bros. and Mulan, a live-action remake of the 1998 animated film, for Disney.
But now, both films have been pushed back into August – not a huge shift in the calendar, but a significant one. It hopefully allows states like New York and California more time to sort out how and when to open their own movie theaters, which will be crucial to both films’ success.
Tenet‘s move may come as the biggest surprise, because of how long Warner Bros. tried to keep it secure in its July release date: the film has been moved before, but only from July 17 to July 31. Christopher Nolan has made it very clear that he regards Tenet as an event film worthy of the big screen (despite debuting the film’s full-length trailer on the Fortnite gaming platform).
Hopefully, by the time the film’s new and improved release date of August 12th rolls around, audiences across the United States will at least be able to go to the movies – whether or not they eventually decide to go is impossible to predict, but Tenet has an uphill battle ahead of it now as the biggest film to launch in theaters since the slow nationwide reopening. Meanwhile, the 10th anniversary re-release of Christopher Nolan’s reality-bending epic Inception has taken Tenet‘s former spot, and will arrive on July 31st to try and mentally prepare audiences for the latter film.
According to a Warner Bros. press release which came with the announcement, Tenet‘s new, mid-week release date is intended to “allow audiences to discover the film in their own time”, but the film is also going to play in theaters much longer than it would normally would have, “to develop a very different yet successful release strategy.”
TENET CAN AFFORD TO MOVE – CAN MULAN?
Over at Disney, the release of Niki Caro’s Mulan remake is inching closer, yet a sizable part of the worldwide box-office is still closed down – specifically China, where the film was expected to make much (or even most) of its money. China still has not announced any details about when they plan to reopen their country’s vast number of movie theaters, which may be why Disney has delayed the live-action war epic by almost a month, from July 24 to August 21.
It’s possible they have information about Chinese theaters that we don’t (they worked very closely with China to make Mulan as authentic as possible, and Chinese audiences were said to be very excited for the film before coronavirus), but it’s also possible they’re stalling. If that’s the case, they might be making a mistake.
Mulan is already in a dangerous spot, financially: though pre-coronavirus box-office tracking had the film heading towards a late March opening weekend upwards of $80 million dollars, hype for Mulan has significantly decreased in the intervening months, and there’s been no new trailers or promotional material to try and reignite interest, meaning that more general moviegoers will simply forget about it with each passing day.
Controversy around the film’s lack of songs and comedy (elements which appeal to American audiences, but were viewed as offensive or inauthentic in China) could also play a factor in driving down ticket sales whenever the film finally opens. It’s no wonder that Disney didn’t feel comfortable being first in line to release a big new movie so soon after reopening: now we just have to hope they’ll feel more optimistic in late August.
Otherwise, we’ll likely see the entire calendar get juggled around again, with more films being shuffled onto streaming services and far fewer actually coming out this year.
How do you feel about both Tenet and Mulan? Are you planning to see either film when they eventually open? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.