Niki Caro’s “Mulan” is getting a new home, again. After being pushed off its originally planned March 27 release date in mid-March due to burgeoning fears about the global pandemic, Disney eventually opted to lock the live-action “Mulan” in for a July 24 release date. But as the pandemic continues to rage, particularly in the United States, and theaters struggle to re-open in some of the country’s biggest markets, a summer release date has proven to be impossible.
The Mouse House will now release the film on August 21, 2020. While Disney has chosen to move some of its previously planned theatrical releases to a streaming home on Disney+ — most notably, the critically maligned “Artemis Fowl,” directed by Kenneth Branagh, and the much-hyped “Hamilton” Broadway performance recording — it has long seemed unlikely that “Mulan” would go the streaming route.
With a budget of at least $200 million, “Mulan” is the most expensive live-action film ever directed by a female filmmaker, and its appeal to movie-loving Chinese audiences seems like the best way to earn back much of that cash. Taking it off the table theatrically was just too much of a gamble, and the studio must now hope that the delayed release date will still pay off when the film is finally released.
The film felt the effects of the growing pandemic early, as its Hollywood premiere took place on March 9 with heightened health-specific protocols in place. Three days later, the film was postponed.
Based on the Chinese folklore legend “The Ballad of Mulan,” the film stars Liu Yifei as the Chinese maiden who disguised herself as a male warrior to save her father. Unlike the beloved animated Disney tale, the film is not a musical and is built around a number of large-scale action setpieces. It also stars Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Gong Li, and Jet Li in supporting roles.
A number of other Disney properties have had to shift release dates in the wake of the pandemic, including “Black Widow” and a number of other Marvel Cinematic Universe properties. Pixar’s “Soul,” which long staked out its own summer date, is now set for a November 20 date.