Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Delay Could Actually Work in the Movie’s Favor

For the past few years, Disney has found great success in remaking some of its classic animated films as live-action releases. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King all reimagined these beloved stories. And they all made at least $1 billion worldwide in the process.

Still, fans have been wary of whether these new productions will tarnish the legacy of some of Disney’s biggest hits. In particular, the upcoming live-action Mulan was met with skepticism, due to dramatic departures from its animated counterpart.

Now the film has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But could the schedule change allow Mulan to become an even bigger hit than planned?

Niki Caro and Yifei Liu attend the European Premiere of Disney's 'Mulan'
Niki Caro and Yifei Liu attend the European Premiere of Disney’s ‘Mulan’ | Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Disney

‘Mulan’ was supposed to be released on March 27, 2020

Directed by Niki Caro, Mulan stars Liu Yifei as the title character, a young woman who disguises herself as a man so that she can join the army in her father’s place. Fans of Disney’s 1998 animated film — itself based on the Chinese folktale — balked at the film initially for a variety of reasons.

Unlike the animated film, this Mulan is not a musical. Likewise, it eliminates some characters — such as motormouthed dragon Mushu and Mulan’s love interest, Li Shang — to modernize and ground the story. Yet, despite those changes, Mulan was starting to win over fans before its delay was official.

Early critical reactions to the film indicated it could be among the best Disney live-action remakes yet. Plus, the addition of a PG-13 rating helped set Mulan apart. Rather than a colorful Disney musical for kids, this version felt more like a historical war epic and thus truer to the heart of the story.

View this post on Instagram

A message from Mulan Director, Niki Caro.

A post shared by Mulan (@mulan) on

‘Mulan’ could be a box office hit during Christmas

When Disney announced Mulan would not be out in March as planned, the studio made clear its intentions to reschedule its theatrical release for later in 2020. Some fans have discussed how the studio should send Mulan to Disney+, but given its $200 million production budget, this is very unlikely.

Instead, what Disney could do is reposition the film as a winter release. The studio already has several big movies slated for release throughout the rest of 2020. But December remains wide open with no Disney film. Given its period setting and epic scope, Mulan could easily slip into a Christmas slot.

Right now, the only family movies set for release in December are Universal’s The Croods 2 and Warner Bros.’ live-action/animated Tom and Jerry. If Disney chose to, it could easily take those two on or even stake out an early December release date.

When will Disney release the movie to theaters?

A late 2020 release would also have the benefit of several more months of marketing and anticipation. Plus, by releasing Mulan in December, Disney could even position the film as an awards contender. Even if it might be a long shot in the top categories, some technical nods feel like a possibility.

Of course, Disney has not indicated how it will handle Mulan‘s release. And until the coronavirus pandemic is under control, the studio will likely stay mum about its 2020 plans. With such an uncertain future, the best thing Disney can do is wait for some sense of normalcy to resume.