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Disney’s Mulan has finally locked down its high-stakes theatrical release date in China.
The film will open in the Middle Kingdom on Sept. 11, an exhibitor with knowledge of the situation tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Mulan is among a handful of Hollywood tentpoles that have seen their spring and summer release dates delayed several times due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and subsequent theater closures.
In early August, Disney revealed a surprise decision to release the film over its Disney+ streaming service on Sept. 4 in the U.S. and other select markets for a premium price of $29.99.
That move makes China the largest — and most lucrative — market that will get to see the tentpole in cinemas as originally intended.
Budgeted at $200 million, Mulan is the priciest of Disney’s recent live-action remakes. Given the uncertain outcome of Disney’s premium VOD gambit and the shaky state of theatrical filmgoing in many territories elsewhere in the world, the China release could prove instrumental to Mulan‘s commercial success or failure.
The Sept. 11 release date means Mulan will be unfurling in China just one week after Warner Bros.’ Christopher Nolan-directed sci-fi Tenet, which opens Friday. Both studio tentpoles have good reason to be optimistic about substantial post-COVID-19 business in China. Although regulators continue to limit cinemas’ seating capacity at 50 percent per screening, Chinese consumer demand for fresh content on the big screen appears to be back in a big way. Chinese war epic The Eight Hundred paved the way for the return of the Chinese theatrical market when it opened to $112 million on Aug. 21. Over the ensuing two weeks, the film’s earnings have soared to over $300 million.
Mulan made its Hollywood premiere at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 9, but it has since gone unseen. It was originally expected to hit Chinese theaters day-and-date with the U.S. on March 27, but was subsequently delayed three times.
Within Asia, Mulan will release in cinemas on Sept. 4 in markets including Thailand and Singapore. But in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and many Western European countries the film is getting the same premium VOD release as in the U.S.
New Zealand filmmaker Niki Caro directed the live-action adaptation that stars Liu Yifei as Mulan, a young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man to spare her elderly father from mandatory military service. The film also stars veteran Hong Kong and Chinese actors Jet Li, Gong Li and Donnie Yen, along with Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Ron Yuan, Tzi Ma, Rosalind Chao, Cheng Pei-Pei, Nelson Lee and Chum Ehelepola. Veteran Hong Kong hitmaker Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Monster Hunt) served as a creative consultant and executive producer on the film.
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