Earlier this week, we learned that Disney has delayed the release of Mulan. Its live-action remake of the 1998 animated movie, in “certain foreign markets” due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. But the film is locked in to its March 27, 2020 release date here in the United States, reportedly because the studio has already spent lots of money on advertising for it. And early estimates suggest that advertising may help drive the movie to an $85 million domestic opening weekend.
Deadline reports that the early Mulan box office tracking numbers are in. And it’s eyeing an $85 million three day start in North America. Interestingly, the site also says that “some believe the live action remake of the 1998 musical animated pic has a shot to get to $100M+ based on tracking diagnostics and comparative titles.” But the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus seems to have everyone operating on the more cautious side of things.
If Mulan ends up opening to $85 million, that would place it somewhere near the middle of the pack on the list of openings for Disney’s live-action remakes. Currently, the top ten on that list are as follows:
The Lion King – $191.7 M
Beauty and the Beast – $174.7 M
Alice in Wonderland – $116.1 M
The Jungle Book – $103.2 M
Aladdin – $91.5 M
Oz the Great and Powerful – $79.1 M
Maleficent – $69.4 M
Cinderella – $67.8 M
Dumbo – $45.9 M
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – $36.9 M
An $85 million opening would be far and away the biggest opening of director Niki Caro‘s career. Her current highest opening weekend is for another Disney film she directed, the 2015 sports drama McFarland, USA. This version of Mulan was built from the ground up to be a far more authentic version of the classic story than the 1990s animated film. And that authenticity was done in the hopes that the film would hit with Chinese audiences. But since many Chinese theaters are closed. I’m curious how much piracy will play a factor in Mulan not officially opening there any time soon. And how it will eventually perform if it receives a Chinese release several months from now.
The National Association of Theater Owners (of which many members will be gathering later this month at CinemaCon), recently released a statement trying to quell fears about people going out to watch movies in theaters:
“The movie business is simultaneously global and local. All theaters in the U.S. and Canada and the vast majority of movie theaters around the world remain open with strong ticket sales. The decision to delay the release of the James Bond movie “No Time to Die” is very unique to that company and that movie. Conversations with other movie distributors confirm that a strong slate of global and local titles will continue to be released theatrically in all territories except those few countries most affected by the virus. Cinemas will remain open around the world with strong attendance, in line with local conditions. And in communication with local health officials.”
You’ll have to take that statement with the proper grain of salt. Since it is coming from people whose livelihoods depend on people showing up to theaters.