Disney delays release of 'Mulan', 'Star Wars' and 'Avatar 2' due to pandemic

The Mulan remake has been delayed three times already. Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Disney has postponed the release of its widely-anticipated Mulan remake indefinitely amid a surge in coronavirus cases across the US.

It was part of a wider reshuffle by the entertainment giant, as it also pushed back four Avatar films and three untitled Star Wars movies.

Disney's delays appeared to trigger similar announcements from other major Hollywood studios.

Sony revealed the upcoming Spider-Man sequel, starring Tom Holland, had been delayed by a month to take advantage of Avatar 2 vacating the Christmas 2021 slot.

It will now swing into cinemas on December 17 next year, and not November 5 as previously scheduled.

Top Gun: Maverick, a follow-up to Tom Cruise's 1986 classic, was then pushed by Paramount from December 23 2020 to July 2 next year.

Also, A Quiet Place II, an early casualty of the pandemic in March, has now been delayed from September to April 23 2021.

This is the fourth delay for Mulan. The blockbuster was on the verge of release on March 27 when the pandemic closed theatres around the world.

Disney then moved it to July 24 before switching to its most recent date of August 21.

Mulan, which stars Lui Yifei in the lead role, has now been postponed indefinitely.

A Disney representative said: "Over the last few months, it's become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis, and today that means pausing our release plans for Mulan as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world."

Disney also pushed back a stream of other releases. James Cameron's Avatar 2 - a sequel to the 2009 film that was at the time the highest-grossing movie ever - has been delayed a year to December 2022.

The other films in the franchise will be released every other December, Disney said, finishing with Avatar 5 in 2028.

Three Star Wars films were also delayed. The first untitled movie has shifted from December 2022 to a year later, while the two others will be released in December 2025 and December 2027 respectively.

The superhero movie will now be released in the US on December 17 2021 and not November 5 as previously scheduled, the studio announced.

Other films delayed by Disney include Sir Ridley Scott's historical thriller The Last Duel, which stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. That has shifted from December of this year to October 2021.

However, not all of Disney's films were shifted to next year. Sir Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Agatha Christie's Death On The Nile was pushed back two weeks to October 23 2020.

Highly-anticipated Christopher Nolan film Tenet has been postponed by Warner Bros. Credit: AP Images

The Mulan delay is another bitter blow to the ailing cinema industry, following Warner Bros' decision to push back Christopher Nolan's much-anticipated blockbuster Tenet.

Theatre owners had hoped both movies would entice customers back through the doors after months of lockdown.

While cinemas in England were allowed to reopen from July 4 - as long as social distancing guidelines were followed - the picture across North America is much more uncertain.

New York City and Los Angeles, the two biggest markets in the US, have no concrete plans for reopening cinemas.