HomeLifestyleMulan debuts as Hollywood holds its breath over coronavirus spread
Mulan debuts as Hollywood holds its breath over coronavirus spread
Walt Disney held a red carpet premiere for its action epic Mulan on Tuesday (AEST), pushing ahead with the movie's rollout even though the coronavirus spread will keep the film out of China, the second-largest film market, indefinitely.
At the moment, film studios have decided the show must go on at movie theatres in most of the world. The major exception is James Bond thriller No Time to Die, which producers moved to November from April.
Yifei Liu, star of Mulan, at the premiere of the Disney film in Los Angeles. Credit:AP
Studio executives are closely watching the spread of the coronavirus and the upcoming film calendar. Summer blockbuster season is scheduled to kick off May 1 with Disney's Marvel adventure Black Widow, followed by a new Fast and Furious spectacle from Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures, a Top Gun sequel from ViacomCBS Inc's Paramount Pictures, and other big-budget action flicks.
If the coronavirus keeps people at home or shuts more cinemas, it would threaten box office receipts during Hollywood's most lucrative season. Cinemas are closed across China and Italy and in part of France.
The situation puts movie studios in "uncharted waters," said Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution at AT&T Inc's Warner Bros. studio.
Warner Bros. has not delayed any film openings, Goldstein said, "but we have an open mind. We will have to look at everything and see how it unfolds."
The National Association of Theatre Owners said moviegoing remained healthy in most areas and cinemas will remain open "in line with local conditions."
This past weekend, ticket sales in the United States and Canada, the world's biggest box office market, rose 1.2 percent from a week earlier to $US100.7 million ($153 million), according to measurement firm Comscore.
"Right now, I haven't seen any discernible impact at the (US and Canadian) box office," said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Mulan, a $US200 million live-action remake of Disney's animated classic, has been expected to rank as one of the company's biggest hits of the year.
The movie was tailored to appeal especially to the Chinese market. The story centres around a Chinese heroine, features an all-Asian cast, and was filmed partly in China. The central character is played by Yifei Liu, a film and TV actress well known in China.
It is unclear when Chinese cinemas will re-open. The movie is set to debut in the United States on March 27.
"My heart goes out to everybody in China and around the world that is affected," Mulan director Niki Caro said on the red carpet on Monday. "When we do have the opportunity to bring this movie back home to China, it's going to be the most wonderful celebration."
Mulan was made for "a global audience," producer Chris Bender said at the premiere. "We want everybody to see it."
Dergarabedian said Mulan will be an important test of moviegoing amid the coronavirus outbreak. "This is a situation that is changing day by day," he said.
In the meantime, studios are moving ahead. On Monday, Disney released a new trailer for Black Widow starring Scarlett Johansson as the popular Avengers character. The trailer said the movie's release date remained May 1.